“Work to live, don’t live to work.” – My Mom

I recently read Why It’s Important to Work Hard by Joshua and I was struck by the end of the post where he addressed those who do not like what they do.

While I enjoy my work quite a bit, there have been times in my life where it wasn’t the type of work I wanted to do, or I wasn’t sure I was good at it and questioned my abilities during those tough times. Chris has also gone through moments of great dislike for the career path he so badly wanted as a young teenager as it wasn’t the way he imagined it would be.

Joshua’s notation that you are doing the noble thing in providing for your family despite the dislike you experience was a different way to frame what my Mom always told me, “Work to live, don’t live to work.”

What I try to get across to anyone I engage with who dislikes their work but feels stuck is to reframe how they see their work. Don’t look at it as a trap, but also don’t look to your day job to fulfill your every need. Just as you shouldn’t consider a school the only place you can learn, don’t look to a job as the only place to provide you an open exploration of your interests and passions.

If you don’t like your job, view it as the noble thing to take care of your family or to provide the stability to pursue your passions outside of your daily required work. It’s a means to an end, not the end. Like my Mom always told me, “Work to live, don’t live to work.”

My Mom never focused on her work as providing all of her life. Instead, she had hobbies, interests, and friends outside of work. Sure, at times her job was tough providing for our family, but she also had that mantra to get her to the end. My Mom didn’t have as many options growing up for work, so she was not of the “live and work your passion” period my generation grew up with. I’m thankful for her reality checks when the going gets tough.

With all of that said, over the past eight years I’ve reframed my entire librarian career into one sentence:

I’m here to help others.

When I’ve gone through rough times in other career positions, I looked to frame what existed in my life and where I could explore my own interests outside of that scheduled time. In the end, my focus is always to help whoever walks through my library doors (and even in my personal life).

On bad days, I remind myself, “I’m here to help.” On good days, I remind myself, “I’m here to help.”

It’s quite possible in any job or career path you take, you can focus on the helping and alleviate the pressure to live and work your passion. Did I ever imagine I’d end up being a “helper”? Nope.

Do I love the fact that no matter where I go, what I do, and where my daily work leads me and my passions intertwine I can always say, “I’m here to help.”

Maybe realize the work you’re doing is noble. It’s the noble thing to do what you need to do. You can make time outside of those hours to pursue hobbies and passions, or grow a new career. You are working to live, not living to work.

In the end, everywhere you go you can always fall back on, “I’m here to help.”

2 thoughts on ““Work to live, don’t live to work.” – My Mom

  1. i always felt better when serving people was my paying gig. i do this science stuff because the hours and pay are good but my favorite thing was being a bartender in new orleans. i felt like a host and ambassador for a city i just loved, the only one i’ve ever loved. it wasn’t so much about the money but helping direct people to a good time and honestly hoping they would enjoy the city as much a i did. sound crazy to care more about that than research and development but it doesn’t make it less true.

  2. That sounds like it was a pretty fun job to have. I am a huge fan of New Orleans, we visited several times when I was a child and teen. It was my Dad’s favorite place! Sometimes I think jobs people enjoy more are when they can be social and helpful at the same time. At least that’s been my experience!

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