There aren’t a great many things more precious than your labor. You spend much of your time working. In fact, you spend a great deal of your life working. It matters a great deal what you do with that time. The work you do matters. How you do the work matters, too. And it matters with whom—and for whom—you do that work.
If you want to invest your work—and your life—with meaning, you have to give yourself over to it.
What You Do
It matters very much what you do. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do; it could really be anything. What matters is what you do.
In this Information Age, we knowledge workers have a lot of freedom and a lot of choices about what we do with our time. We have choices as to what work we choose to engage with and when we do it. We can choose work that makes a difference. Or we can choose something less.
Are you focused on the highest value creating work you have available to you? Or are you focused on trivialities, novelties, and distractions? How much of your time is spent in the areas that really make a difference for you, for your company, and for your clients?
Work is fulfilling when you give yourself over to what’s really important. If you are bored at work, if you find it uninspiring, try turning away from the distractions and focusing on the work that makes a difference.
How You Do the Work
Do you treat your work like a master craftsman, deliberately making certain that your work is of the highest quality you are capable of producing? Or do you dabble, putting forth the minimum effort necessary to skate by?
How you do the work matters. It matters that do the highest quality work possible. How you do the work makes a statement about who you are, for good or for ill. Your work is a demonstration of your expertise, your professionalism, and your dedication to your craft. Or it’s the product of “doing your job.”
Lose yourself in your work. Give yourself over it. Treat each piece of work as if it is a statement of who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe. How you do the work matters a great deal.
Who You Work For and With
Too many people believe that their target client is anyone willing to pay them for their labor. When your work is about survival, this is undeniably true. But who you work for—and who you work with—matters too.
If you work for people that don’t appreciate the value you create, you will find it impossibly difficult to be satisfied with the giant part of your life that is your labor. If you work for clients that believe you are a vendor, a transaction, where little value can be created, your work will feel as meaningless as those transactions.
Give yourself over to doing work that creates value for people that appreciate the value you create. For some of us, that means spending more time finding the people that appreciate the value we create. It means we have to spend more time demonstrating that the value we create is worth paying more to obtain. None of this easy, but it’s necessary if you want your work to have meaning.
You spend a lot of time with your work peers, maybe more time than you spend with your family. Do you treat them like family? Do you invest in those relationships? Who you work with matters, too. You give yourself over to your team by being the business partner that you would want for yourself.
Your labor is precious. Give yourself over to your work.