Rebranding Work

September 5, 2022

 "Tomorrow, I'm going to work"

This sentence has so many underlying psychological connotations:-

  • 9 to 5
  • Annoying bosses
  • Getting up early
  • Clock watching
  • Limited breaks
  • Doing things you don't want to do
  • Dealing with people you don't want to do deal with
  • Commuting
  • Performance reviews
  • Playing the game

If "work" was a brand, the PR and marketing teams would have an emergency on their hands. 

"Work" is tarnished beyond saving.  Very few of us have any positive connotations with the word.

A World without Work

At a deeper, level, though...when you peel back the veil, most of us come to realize at some point in our lives that not only do we enjoy work, but we need it.

Earlier today I asked a restauranteur with 22 establishments why he continued to work 70 hour weeks when his company is valued at $90m.  

His answer?  

"I need to be engaged with life.  If I sold the company I know what I'd do for 3 or 4 months...but after that I'd have nothing to keep me growing, engaged and challenged.  I'd feel lost.  This gives me purpose."

I had the same experience when I stepped down from the company that I'd been working on for a decade.  It was great... for the first month.  After that, though, I realized that I needed growth, challenges, focus, structure.  I needed to re-establish the pleasure : pain balance that's the bedrock of an enjoyable life.

You see it time and time again.  Someone achieves success, attains everything they ever wanted, ends up going off the rails, has a re-awakening, and then realizes that their work is what really matters.

The "Lying on the Beach" Fallacy

When random people are asked what they'd do if they didn't have to work, a common response is that they'd fly to some exotic destination and spend their time sipping sangrias on the beach.

In our heads, it seems so appealing.  Who wouldn't want that?

Most of us never get to experience that privilege, so we never see beyond the allure.  

Those that have it all, though... those that actually can spend their lives building sand castles and topping up their tan... generally fall into a few camps:-

  1. They carry on working, growing, building, moving forward regardless
  2. They turn to superficial stimuli (drugs, alcohol, sex addictions etc.)

Most from the second camp end up getting over their addictions and back into the first camp.  But some never make it.

Those in the first camp realize that, as humans, we are goal driven machines.  If we're not progressing and growing, we're not happy.  Progress is happiness.

Happy People are Engaged People

Work can be a horrible experience or it can be fulfilling.  

Whether it falls into one camp or the other depends on how you interpret it, rather than what it's inflicting upon you. 

Just merely realizing that engaging with life is a skill that you cultivate rather than something that you search for in the ether is critical.

One of the first steps to changing how you think about your work is to not consider it work at all. 

Instead of saying you're going to work, consider reframing it to one of these instead...

  • Tomorrow, I get to create...
  • Tomorrow, I get to build...
  • Tomorrow, I get to design...
  • Tomorrow, I get to lead...
  • Tomorrow, I get to inspire...
  • Tomorrow, I get to ship...

Work is what you make it.  Rebrand it in your mind.

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