Do you need to love your work?

Do you need to love your work?

This is a reproduced version of a piece that appeared originally on PRmoment.

love prWe ‘work’ around 260 days a year.  Or about 2,000 hours.  Quite a lot isn’t it?  And presented like that, well, it seems a bit depressing.

And we all know about the supposed ‘work/life balance’.  The apparent even split between getting your head down, but actually having a life outside.  It always seems to be in fashion as a subject.

Problem is though, if you view your day to day existence through that filter, I’ve some bad news for you.  It’ll fail.  Because the pressure of work, or indeed the pressure of home / life outside, will dictate that it does.  It’s very difficult to keep that balance.  It’s always on a knife edge.  And when it goes awry, you naturally get grumpy.  Or worse still, there are more serious consequences to health, stress and so on.

So, what about if we try and love what we do at work?  Seriously.  Shift our whole mindset and gearing.  Or just really like it, enjoy it (OK, you don’t have to use the word ‘love’ – enjoyment is fine).  So, ‘work/life balance’ never comes up as a descriptor, because it never needs to.  We feel fulfilled by going to work and what happens at work – and enjoy life outside it naturally.  But we don’t obsess about achieving a supposed ‘work/life zen’.

The most successful entrepreneurs naturally LOVE what they do.  They evangelise.  They enthuse.  They’re infectious.  Sure, they have crap days, but generally they see the positive – and are driven by a sense of purpose and affinity with what they’re doing.

But here’s the thing.  Everyone can be entrepreneurial, you don’t need to set up something, you can be brilliantly entrepreneurial within an organisation.  In fact, the supposed ‘best businesses’ (take an Apple or a Google) encourage you to be entrepreneurial.  And entrepreneurialism generates enjoyment and a love for what you do – I promise you.  Everyone smiles a lot more, too.

I’ve always strived to be entrepreneurial and enjoy what I do.  And I admit, sometimes it requires a lot of application to think it through.  But I try and instill a sense of entrepreneurial zing in my businesses because I think that breeds enjoyment for everyone – from the security guard to Non Exec Directors.  Last year I launched a second creative venture, and early next year, possibly a third.  My principle day job is leading a creative brand PR agency, Launch PR.  My second is a creative movement and awards called The Creative Shootout, backed by the all the major marketing associations and done for charity each year.  I have kids.  I have a pretty busy social life.  So, for me (as it should for everyone) – every day matters.  And it matters to me that the absolutely brilliant people inside Launch PR and The Creative Shootout enjoy it too.  Not ‘work/life’ – because for me that’s not a realistic descriptor.

I decided this early on in my career.  My love at uni was sport.  So my first job was in sport (not glamorous, but still got to watch a lot!) Then I fell in to PR.  And loved it (there you go, that word again).  I liked brands naturally, so worked on brands and got to travel the world with Smirnoff and models (might have also had something to do with loving what I do, I freely admit.)  After seven years I decided I’d learnt enough to have a go at something on my own.  I loved PR, particularly projects, but also food and drink brands.  So, I thought about two options.  Launching a juice bar business (15 years ago!) or a PR business were my two conclusions.  I plumped for PR because I thought I’d actually enjoy it more.  So I set up the world’s first agency that specialised in projects (because I enjoyed projects).  Sure, there have been some tough times, but on the whole, very special.  And although most of our clients have been with us a long time and are retained, we still apply a ‘project philosophy’ to every client relationship – hunger, focus, energy, ambition of thinking etc.

So, for me, to achieve the ‘work / love’ path, here are eight things to think about:

  1. Wake up every day and remind yourself ‘there is nothing that cannot happen today’ (Mark Twain said it).  Be ambitious for the day
  2. Visualise your day before you get stuck in to it. Think through the potential good, the bad, the ugly.  Try it – you’ll enjoy it more I swear because you’re better prepared. And if you don’t have time, get up 15 minutes earlier!
  3. Seek to create a positive working environment.  Everyone can influence that and positivity breeds positivity.  It’s infectious.  You and others will enjoy it more
  4. Reflect on interesting meetings or creative sessions – and actually reflect ‘how cool/interesting/unusual was that!’ – as opposed to – ‘I’m glad that’s over ..’  Or ‘tick, I’ve done that.’  Live in the moment as opposed to waiting for the day to end
  5. Push yourself as hard as you can and always ask: is this good enough?  Try it.  You’ll actually enjoy your work more as you get a greater sense of fulfilment
  6. Be kind and consistent to people.  You can be the firmest manager, with clear expectations, but kindness and consistency are greats traits in generating a positive atmosphere
  7. Be honest when you have to.  Honesty can be a good leveller if delivered right – and you’ll enjoy work more if you don’t carry around baggage.  And your colleagues will, too – as everyone’s clear on where they stand
  8. And finally, take a moment to reflect on each day.  They don’t always go well, sure.  But reflect on both the good and the bad.  And if it didn’t go quite right, remember you’ll soon be back to no.1!

We all strive to do ‘the perfect job’ and have ‘the perfect life’.  And by now you’ve probably guessed something.  How you focus and action on real fulfilment at work is a game changer for enjoying, or even loving, what you do.

This post is in: Launch life, News