How I learned to love my job

[note color=”#FDD017″]This is a guest post by Andhedrew. He is an artist and blogger who’s committed to giving away 1000 pieces of art to random strangers, an idea that he introduced at TED. He blogs about intentional living. If you’d like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.[/note]

I want to tell you a story about how I learned to love my job.

First I need to tell you why I hated my job: health insurance. Simply put, I wouldn’t need to work my day job if my wife and I could buy health insurance, but because Sonia had cancer a few years back, we can’t get insured. My job is the only feasible source for health insurance, so I’m tied to it for now.

And boy, did I resent the heck out of that.

I have a good work situation: I work in a coffee shop where the employees are more of a family than co-workers. It’s a great atmosphere, and I get to indulge one of my favorite hobbies: coffee. I get to talk about, drink, and sell coffee all day long. I get contact with people who adore coffee, and love talking about it. There’s really not many “real jobs” better suited for me, but because I was forced to work there, I had grown to resent every minute of it.

I hated my job. I dreaded going, and the hours spent there seemed to stretch out with no end. It was terrible.

Then Zig Zigler gave me a swift kick in the butt.

I somehow stumbled on a video where he described a brief exercise for people who hate their work.

First step: Write down everything that you sorta like about your job.

Even if you have a terrible job, there are a few things that you like about it: you get paid, for instance. Write that down.

Here’s my list:

  1. I like my job because they pay me money.
  2. I like my job because I get health insurance.
  3. I like my job because I get good health insurance, which covers a lot of expenses.
  4. I like my job because I work with cool people.
  5. I like my job because I get free coffee.
  6. I like my job because I get to meet cool people.
  7. I like my job because I get to try new products before they come out.
  8. I like my job because I get to serve people.

Your list will look different than mine, but you should at least have a small list. Ponder this for a while. Really look for the things (even small things) that you like about your job.

Done? Ok, let’s move on.

Second step: When you’re all alone, perhaps late at night when everyone else has gone to bed, go to a mirror and stare directly into your eyes in the reflection.

As Zig said in the video, eyes are the windows to your soul. Try to stop examining your face, your imperfections, your hair, your muscles, whatever you normally do when you look in the mirror, and stare directly into your eyes (actually, pick an eye, don’t dart back-and-forth). Be quiet for a moment. Relax. Then take your list of “likes” and start telling them to yourself.

…only substitute “like” for “love”.

This was a soul-rending experience for me. I was scared to do this, because it was just too tough. It was too darn difficult to say that I loved my job. I had nursed the hatred for so long that it was like making up with someone who had hurt me. I knew I had to change, though – the pain of staying miserable at my job was too much to bear – so I did it.

I immediately felt a little relief. Things were changing.I love my job

After I had done this exercise for a few days, I started to believe it. Work seemed less unbearable, and more of an opportunity to serve, learn, and connect. Sometimes on bad days I had to stare at my reflection in the break room microwave and go through this list. I’m still working on it, and it keeps getting better. Thankfulness is powerful, the most healthy human emotion, and it can be exercised in any situation. Utilize it to manage your emotions and be the best you can be.

That dose of thankfulness awakened me to the truth: I had fallen for the lie that my circumstances are responsible for my happiness. I thought that if I could quit my job, if i could buy health insurance, if I could have more money, it would fix my life. The truth is, I have to fix my life before change can happen.

Love-JobIf you believe that a different job, a different boss, a different circumstance would make everything wrong about your life better, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. Give your new boss a few months, and you’ll hate him too. I am going to quit my job eventually, but in the meantime I’m going to be thankful for it, for my co-workers, for everything on my list, and I’m going to have a better, more purposeful life for it.

If you hate your job, start practicing intentional thankfulness. It might completely change how you view your job. It might change how your co-workers treat you, because (I promise) it will change you.

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  • TheAndHeDrew

    Hey, Dan! Thanks for publishing this piece, and thank you far all of the ways that you encourage us to be the best that we can be!

  • Great message. Gratitude changed my life and continues to when I use it.

    Of course, it won’t necessarily make a bad job great but it will create a better, more empowering attitude that will assist in getting a better job.

    This reminds me of the story Zig tells of the man with his wedding ring on the wrong finger because he married the wrong woman. Hana!

    • Jamie slingerland

      I love that story Zig tells.

    • TheAndHeDrew

      “it will create a better, more empowering attitude that will assist in getting a better job.” I think that’s key. This way, we don’t get stuck in the mud.

  • amyyoungmiller

    This is so awesome. Gratitude is a wonderful tool to use to have a happy life!

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Agreed, it’s one of the best.

  • Wesley Wiley

    Great post Andrew!! Good timing for me as well I may add!

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Good. Put it to good use.

  • Alana Mautone

    Great advice, Andrew. I am going to post this on Facebook and tweet this. One slight moment of confusion, though – when you said “…only substitute “like” for “love”.” you did mean “only substitute “love” for “like” – right? Folks like me are so easily confused. By the way, this really does sound like an ideal job for this season of your life.

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Oops, caught. There’s always a typo, isn’t there?

  • Thank you for this post!

    • TheAndHeDrew

      You’re welcome, Raven!

  • This is one of the most beneficial and useful posts I have ever read. Thank you. I’ve known the importance of this for a long time, but never really had a practical way to go about it. It’s too soon to officially call this post transformational, but I fully expect it to be, many times over.

    • TheAndHeDrew

      That’s great! Be sure to drop me a line and let me know how it goes.

  • breakfast, lunch and hugs
  • Karen Ray

    Love it, what a game changer to swap the attitude out! Where can I get an “I love my job” button (it’s true–I do)?

    • TheAndHeDrew

      That’s awesome that you do. Unfortunately, that puts you in a pretty small minority. Thank goodness for people like Dan!

  • cc chic

    The same thing probably works if you “hate” your mother-in-law, your spouse, your house, your town or whatever you loathe!

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Absolutely! Thankfulness can apply to any situation.
      We human beings can be pretty talented at making ourselves miserable, no matter the situation.

  • When I am coaching people who hate their current job, one thing they don’t always see is that the job they have is enabling them to find another job. If you are out of work and hungry, you have to take what you can get. If you have money coming in, you are in a position of strength and can find the RIGHT next job. Loved the Ted talk, looking forward to seeing more from you. Thanks!

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Thanks, Tom! I’m glad you liked the talk. What you say is so true, it’s difficult to work on your dream when you’re hungry.

  • don roulo

    Fantastic! I have heard Zig speak on this before, but THANK YOU for the reminder!

    My wife and I are self-employed. We own a couple of businesses. I can relate to your feelings of dread at times. I don’t ‘hate’ what we do, but I can tell you that when you realize you need to make changes in insurance, workers and then a $3000 refrigerator you JUST bought blows up (not literally) … you can start to think about all the things you DON’T like about it.

    I need to remind myself of why we DO like what we do.

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Wow, if I were in your situation I would probably never stand near a refrigerator again. 😉
      Yes, there’s no situation where we can’t make ourselves miserable, if we try. If nothing’s going wrong, we can make something up. I need to be reminded often to be thankful, as we all do.

  • Andrew, first I got to tell you how much I love the creativity of using AndHeDrew since it compliments your name. Genius buddy!

    And thanks for the great blog post. I’ve moved into the area of hating my current job, which at one point seemed like a dream job, and needed this reminder of how to get out of the funk. Here’s hoping it’ll move me out of it.

    • TheAndHeDrew

      Yeah, being thankful doesn’t mean we have to stay somewhere that isn’t a good fit, though! I am thankful for my job, but I am still looking for ways to transition out of it, because it’s not ultimately where I want to be. I just try to choose daily not to let myself be miserable while I’m there.

  • Jamie slingerland

    Dan great post! Several months ago I was convinced my job stunk. I found this content on Zig’s podcast and did this exercise.
    Selling camera equipment online seemed unmeaningful to me especially after teaching middle school students. As I made the list and changed the words “I like my job” to ” love my job” I realized I was blessed with my current work and was way less drained at the end of the work day.

    Recently i started watching videos on youtube of Brian Tracy. One video titled secrets of self made millionaires changed my path again.
    Tracy says most people are one skill away from doubling our incomes. This realization along with being greatful for what we have in our current work gives me hope. I realized I need to improve my skill as a communicator in order to become a great coach!
    Thanks for this post Dan. It confirms to me I am on the right path!

  • Kim

    Great advice. No matter what situation we are in, we should always look for the reasons that we love the situation instead of hate it. So much of life is about perspective.

    • TheAndHeDrew

      So true! This doesn’t mean we have to be stuck in a situation that isn’t a good fit, but we can find ways to be thankful in most situations.