I do the old salmon swimming upstream commute as I head into the city while everyone else is filtering out to go home for the night.
While everyone else is off during the holidays, it’s busy season for me. Most people entertain themselves to forget about their job, I entertain others as my job.
Even what I wear is completely unorthodox. Instead of a business suit and tie or a “uniform,” I wear bathing suits, flippers, and sandals everyday. (It’s always summer at Mamma Mia!)
The job of an actor is far from typical. And yet, when I leave to head to the theater, I still use the same mantra echoed by the entire American workforce. “I have to go to work.” I love my job, but I still call it work.
Work is the word we use to describe our jobs and careers, no matter how unorthodox they may be. And yet, if we’re honest, when we leave “work” at the end of the day, how many of us can honestly say that we actually feel like we worked? I’m not talking about being tired or exhausted. These are not signs of having worked. These are signs that you are a living human being. Whether you sit on the couch all day, or are hustling your face off, at the end of the day you will feel tired simply because the body needs sleep. It’s how we’re wired. So don’t mistake being tired as a sign that you’ve done work.
The feeling of having worked is the deeply satisfied feeling of having used your heart, mind, and spirit to creatively solve problems and contribute towards progress. How many of us can honestly say that’s how we feel when we leave “work” each day? My guess is, not nearly enough of us.
“But Jon,” you say, “how do I achieve this feeling?”
My answer is simple. So simple in fact, that you’re probably going to think it’s stupid. My answer is this: work.
The dictionary defines work as an “activity involving mental or physical effort in order to achieve a purpose or result.” The output of effort in pursuit of a goal. Every one of us, at one point or another, has known what this feels like. Don’t overcomplicate it. Know the goal, then mobilize your mind, body, and spiritual power to get it done.
When you leave work, you should feel like you’ve worked. You don’t tell your spouse, “I gotta go coast” or “slide by” or “put in minimum effort.” But unfortunately that is the posture for many of us while on the job. This has got to change.
The good news is, when we commit ourselves the actually working at work, we instantly discover more excitement, passion, and joy for our job. Furthermore, I believe that the more we work in this way, the more our jobs will feel less like work, and more like play.