It’s Valentine’s Day, and we are all focused on showing the love – to our partners, our clients, and our besties. Relationships rule the day. This is interesting, since we spend on average, a third of our life at work, and on average, only 37 minutes with our families, the very ones we claim to love most.
Perhaps our need to express our devotion and gratitude to our loved ones is out of guilt over the time we spend elsewhere. But I suspect not. We are very “other” focused by-in- large. So we celebrate Valentine’s Day to let them know. When we do, though, we miss the vital importance of the work we do for our own mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being.
Sure. Our work is not a human being. However, work is what generally gives us our sense of meaning and worth. It is where we receive our recognition, grow our impact, our wealth and our influence—far more than with our loved ones. Is this sad? Not really.
However, it is no small thing that we take our work—a vibrant source of our own wellbeing—for granted. Perhaps if we treated our work and our business with greater love, respect, gratitude—and nurtured it—as we would a prized love relationship—then we would have less stress, burnout, and attrition. In fact, we might choose work that really filled our souls more often, instead of a paycheck and expediency.
Ask yourself: Would you marry someone purely out of expediency?
Well, okay. Some of you would.
There was a time society did treat marriage as transactional. And some societies still do. But most of us believe more is possible, and worth pursuing. Many of us (myself included) have actually found it, and are a living demonstration that a fulfilling marriage is no fantasy, despite the fact it demands a lot from us in return. I also experience my work as a similarly satisfying and nurturing experience. Here’s how you can “feel the love” from your work this Valentine’s Day:
Stop Expecting Work to Provide Passion
Passion is not the answer to loving what you do. Passion is a short burst of energy. There will be certainly be moments of this level of delicious excitement in our work, but like a solid marriage, there are other, less “sexy” efforts that keep things moving forward, growing and evolving.
The quest for passion in our work is a path to disappointment, ultimately. Instead look for deep meaning and fulfillment. Are you helping others? Are you in a place of excellence, genius, and real personal growth? Then that’s your work. You could be anything and feel personal mastery – emptying trash or building skyscrapers.
Too many of us want our work to solve an inner dissatisfaction. (Not coincidentally, many of us want that from relationships too!) Instead, try to embody the fulfillment in order to be a vibrational match to what you’re looking for. If you want work to incite your creativity, give creative effort to everything you do right now.
Write your emails creatively by considering the best subject line to engage the reader, and creatively lay out your message using as few high-impact words as possible. Tell a story with your emails. Make a heart connection with your emails. Whatever feels creative-and appropriate—bring your inspiration to the party. Now, do this with everything, not just emails. Notice that even if no one notices, you feel delight from your efforts, regardless.
Nurture What’s Worth Having
Relationships need time and attention to remain strong. They demand open, frequent communication, and a common focus. They can't survive ongoing dishonesty, addiction, abuse, or split allegiances. This is equally true of your work or business. If you are unengaged, or, worse, always putting our fires, without support or resources, and unable to spend quality time being strategic, then your work will soon burn you out.
In relationships we can take things for granted, and we also can ignore the warning signs something is wrong. Your task is to decide if there is enough good in your business to be worth redefining your relationship to it. A coach can help you sort that out, if you are unclear.
But once you are sure this work is for you, then it’s time to start setting aside the time to restore the mutually beneficial relationship. Strategy planning is to business, what date night is in a marriage. If you don’t take the time for the romance of it, soon there will be none left.
Love Always Wins
If you are needy in your business, or your business feels needy to you, then love is not in the equation. You are out of balance, and thus, out of love with your work. You are competing with your work instead. Nobody wins. This can be a dangerously depleting and often addictive workaholic approach to business..
What is commonly called “falling in love” is, in most cases, an intensification of egoic wanting or needing. You become addicted to another person, or rather to your image of that person. It has nothing to do with true love, which contains no wanting whatsoever.” – Eckhart Tolle
True love is supremely happy in the presence of its equal. It gives more than it takes. And it needs nothing because the well is full. If you are a parasite on your business, or vice versa, it is still possible to rebalance the dynamic, if you do so with great consciousness and focus.
Set clear boundaries for the time you will spend together, then do so intentionally
Have a common goal – grow your business to help you grow
Respect one another – you have strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and there are also threats you share with your business. Set aside any false ideals, and face the reality with strength and clarity.
Feed you business what it craves – time and attention
Keep sacred time just for yourself, so you have time and attention to give to your business (even if you are just starting out!)
The result, ironically enough, is you have more time for non-work related activities, and get greater joy everywhere in your life when you give healthy attention to your work. That’s the power of love. And love always wins – in business, just as in life.