What do you think about when you see, hear or write the word work?
I’ve had numerous experiences in the world of work and somehow my opinion keeps changing. Last year work was a serious trauma point in my life. A few years ago work was the highlight of my life. In times of the pandemic, I am grateful I have work in my life, but also realise things could be better.
As such, you can imagine this chapter of DailyOM’s “A Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self” course was quite a rich one for me.
The same as for Lesson 1: Roadblocks, this lesson started with an introductory paragraph exploring how the previous lesson may have shaped my thoughts and prepared me for the next one.
Again I was presented with a list of questions to contemplate and consider. I was also reminded that I could choose to answer as many or as few questions as I liked.
The first exercise in this lesson was “List as many past jobs that you’ve held as you can think of”. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
And at first glance it was.
I put down a list and ended up with 13 jobs. However, then I started thinking in more depth about what “jobs” and “work” actually were – and meant to me. That’s where it started getting slightly more complicated.
By the time I finished the exercise, I had 18+ roles listed in my history over the past 16 years. I was quite gob-smacked to be honest.
I know I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life. I also know that I’ve learnt a lot from each and every one of those jobs too.
However, to have each and every one of them listed out in front of you. Also, to re-count highlights and low points for each and every one of them – as the further exercises encouraged, well let me tell you – that’s quite an experience.
My little work epiphany
I always used to think and preach that work was something that had to be enjoyable to make it worthwhile. If you didn’t enjoy your job then why stay, right?
More recently, however, for the first time in my life, I was in a situation where I really didn’t enjoy my work. It caused me far more stress, anxiety and discomfort than joy. It literally kept me up at night and sent me to weekly therapy sessions – no exaggeration.
Yet due to the pandemic making job alternatives scarce, and not wanting to move country again and/or lose my income, I didn’t feel like leaving was an option.
This naturally put an emphasis on trying to find a way to turn an uncomfortable situation into a situation that could work for me. No easy feat I tell you. However, the exercise worked.
Several months along, I am still in the same job yet I feel a lot stronger. Although there are still very stressful moments, I feel a lot more willing and able to cope with them.
During this week’s lesson, and now re-counting my experiences about it, really drove my progress home to me. And it makes this chapter kind of special to me.
Especially since you really only appreciate a journey when you actually recognise you’ve been on it. And this week I most certainly realised I’ve been on quite an incredible and stretching journey – and have come out well the other side.
As such, I feel very grateful for that recognition and I’m curious to see what happens in the lesson for next week.
The next lesson is entitled “What is missing?”. I’m not sure what it holds, but it sounds like it could be a good one.
My first thought is that it may be dealing with the topic of happiness. My therapist actually asked me the same question a few weeks ago.
“What is it that you feel is missing in your life? What is missing to make you happy?”
My answer at the time was “I don’t really feel like much is missing in my life – I’m in a good place now.”. We stopped therapy a week later. Interesting, isn’t it?
What about you? What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think about that question?
I’ll let you know some more of my own thoughts, once I’m done completing the next lesson.
Happy Easter Sunday everyone! 😉