If Facebook is any indicator, people are eager to call out sick on their birthdays.
And yet, I know that it is possible to like your job so much that it’s where you want to be on your birthday. In fact, I started two jobs on my birthday.
Every week in my coaching office, sometimes asks, “Is it realistic to think I could be happy at work?”. Sometimes, clients will make a proscriptive comment like “My dad said that he never liked his job and neither should I.” or “You’re not supposed to like it; that’s why they call it work.”
No, not every work day is sunshine and rainbows. But the majority of days can be. In the best case, you can feel like you are making a meaningful contribution, developing a skill, and having the autonomy to do the job the best way you know how.
Work can be enjoyable.
And beyond enjoyment, there is also satisfaction in a job that is completed. There is dignity in work. Even unenjoyable tasks provide you with a sense of satisfaction.
Allow me to share a couple of examples.
According to the children’s book series Ordinary People Change the World, Gandhi passed his time in prison cooking and cleaning the toilets.
There is dignity in work.
When I worked in Martha Stewart’s test kitchen, we had a problem with a refrigerator. It had been wonky for weeks and it wasn’t getting fixed. One day Martha visited our kitchen (in a gorgeous white pantsuit) and asked if she could help us with anything we needed.
We mentioned the fridge. So Martha got down on her knees and swiped her whole arm under the fridge, where the wild things grow.
“Has anyone looked under the fridge? Has anyone done this?” she asked. No one had. Martha wanted the problem solved and she did what she felt was needed to assess the situation. No job too small, nothing was beneath her pay grade.
This isn’t the glamorous part of Martha’s job, the peak enjoyment moment of her day. It’s unlikely that is how she saw her day going when she suited up in her whites.
At the end of August, I had a meeting with my children’s elementary school principal. As I approached the front door, I saw that she was outside cleaning the windows. I shared that I was surprised to see her doing this and she said “It’s our front door. It’s our first impression. It has to be right for the children.”
Did she have to be the one to do it? No. And yet, she wanted it done in a certain way so she picked up the Goo Gone and did it. Highlight of her day? Probably not. But it was a highlight of mine.
There is great pride in doing a job right, even a task that does not seem enjoyable at first.
Do you work on your birthday? And if not, what work would you want to do on your birthday?
Is there a task that you can bring dignity to today, and enjoy more than you would have otherwise?