What drives you?

Do you like your job? Is it a “good” job on paper, but not one that really makes you come alive?

What would you change about your work to make it something that would have you eager to climb out of bed everyday to start?

We spend 1/3 of our lives at work; and that’s just on average. The truth is that many of us spend more time at work than with our friends or family. Our social lives have become things that we do when we can squeeze it in. Rest and relaxation? Ha!

Why has work taken over? Is it because it provides us deep meaning and value? Is it because it’s our true fulfillment and life’s purpose? For some lucky people, it is! But for many of us it’s a combinatuon of needing to make ends meet, and social pressure to be productive and hustle.

We’re told stress is a virtue; That a burned out employee is the sign of an engaged and committed employee.

There’s been a shift in recent decades from work to live (with the promise of eventually finding that perfect career that makes us want to live to work!). What’s happened, however, is that we’ve simply gone past “work-life balance” and entered into the territory of “work-as-life”.

What this looks like is checking emails when on the toilet. Getting slack pings while at the dinner table. Starting our “side hustle” after the kids are put to bed. We are constantly trying to do more, make more, be more. The rest of “life” (the stuff most people say on their death beds are the things that actually matter) are squeezed to the side for when (if!) we can find the time.

It is never enough. Perhaps now it makes sense why you are feeling brain fog at the thought of work, why you are struggling to find alignment in life, and why joy has been replaced by busy-ness.

Does it feel odd to have a company, that is committed to helping you improve your experience at work, write a blog that questions the very notion of how we do work in today’s day and age?

Perhaps that is the problem; we’ve been taken so off course that we feel weird about companies that care about our wellbeing.

How can anyone find joy at work if we contiue to operate in a system that is no longer working? That is to say, how can anyone thrive if our workplaces aren’t truly psychologically safe and supportive, equitable, accessible and inclusive, or attuned to the genuine burnout that so many of us are facing?

Who gets to decide enough is enough? Income inequality is a real concern. Housing prices and availability aren’t even accessible to many dual income families. Being trapped financially is a genuine roadblock. We can’t overcome structural inequality by asking people to simply “work and try harder”.

We need to structurally change.

But it’s not just structural. We also need to shift how we think about work, identity, and value. We need to shift our understanding of how mental health and burnout are embedded into our current work experiences and system. We need to recognise our unique contributions to work, and prioritise our competencies and strengths above cookie-cutter approaches to practice, policy, and protocol.

The future of the workforce has arrived. The pandemic shook things up for us to enable change. And upcoming generations are vocal about demanding to see follow through. The change doesn’t have to be a monumental dismantling of how we do things, but small – critical – adjustments that can make work for meaningful for everyone.

Let’s also be real about a few things.

If you don’t have the luxury of taking on jobs here and there as financially needed, or quitting your corporate life to “follow your dreams”, then one thing that is likely of huge importance to you is atleast finding some joy and meaning and value through what you do, even if it’s not your passion. And it’s OK if it isn’t. You have 2/3’s of your life to dedicate to you and what matters. That is, if you can give yourself permission to prioritise those things.

Whether you are an employee or an employer, it is important to know that happy, balanced, and fulfilled people are more engaged, motivated, focused and productive. Taking that time to rest – to connect with family, friends, or what fulfills you – is non-negotiable if you want the “work-part” of your life to be more enjoyable and less draining. As a company, you will benefit from emotionally and psychologically healthier employees. As an employee, you deserve to feel this reduction in mental load and stress.

And you know what? It’s Ok if money drives you at work. We all have reasons why we want to make a little more. Putting in our time is not a bad thing. That is the time we committed to our employer, employees, or company. But what drives you internally? What can you find meaningful about this work? Is there something on the job description that lights you up? Can you ask to do more of that task, and less of something else? Is it the connection with your coworkers? Can you take a lead role in creating a stronger community culture at work? What would that look like? And can that be part of your paid job description? Stronger communities have been shown to create healther bottom lines and increased employee retention.

Here’s what it comes down to: We all have gifts and talents. We all have things that we genuinely enjoy about work. We all have areas where we thrive. When companies, employers, and employees create positions that highlight each person’s capabilities and interests, the entire team works more smoothly. There are so many people in this world who would be more than happy to do the tasks that drag you down. This doesn’t mean ‘suck it up or lose your job’. Rather, it means asking whether there is room for you to do what you’re good at and redistribute some of the other tasks and skills. Can we look at our jobs and actually invite people to do more of all the things they love and are good at? It’s not a radical idea at all. In fact, it’s how most startups are run. Distributing tasks and leaning on strengths. That’s where success if born.

As a bonus? Everyone ends up having more capacity to do what needs to get done.