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:
- I like my job because they pay me money.
- I like my job because I get health insurance.
- I like my job because I get good health insurance, which covers a lot of expenses.
- I like my job because I work with cool people.
- I like my job because I get free coffee.
- I like my job because I get to meet cool people.
- I like my job because I get to try new products before they come out.
- 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.
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.
If 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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