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Happy Valentine’s Day

So, winter is here after spring teasing us with warm days scattered throughout December and January. You know those days if you’ve lived in the mid-west – the kind when there is at least one crazy guy (or in this case a whole city) that’s wearing a T-Shirt and shorts even though it is still only 45 degrees out. Warm, sunny days in the middle of winter sometimes make people do crazy things.

And, as they say, so does love. Please do the craziest things for the people, projects, pets, stuff, ideas, rock bands, technologies, issues, etc. they love. I’m an optimist and a romantic (do you know an optimist that’s not?) and so I like the idea of love. I like the shades, the depth, the variations, the silence and loudness of it. The fact that “love” is sometimes accompanied by dark chocolate doesn’t hurt either.

I never really thought much about “loving what I do at work” because since forever, it seemed to me that I was just so absorbed in whatever I was doing. Ever present in the work. So, I haven’t always been conscientious about linking the work and reconnecting it to my own interests and passions when I reflect on it. Towards the end of last year, a dinner conversation with friends drifted towards the topic of work as it often does. Because two of us are/have been independent consultants and another an account manager, we talked about finding work, getting good work and what next. Toward the end of the conversation, I exuded a general tone of fatigue. After taking it all in, and knowing the difficulties of working for oneself, my one friend said, “But you’re so lucky. You’ve made it well enough that you get to do what you love to do.” I was a bit startled because I hadn’t framed my work in that way in a long time. It’s not always easy working for yourself – there is risk, there is uncertainty, there are lean times and you always have to be motivated to get things done; whatever it is that needs to get done—no matter when or why. Sometimes you lose site of WHAT and WHY you love about your work because the WHO, WHEN, WHERE and WHAT NEXT are so ever present.

But, she was right. I am lucky. And, for the most part, I do love what I get to do. I’m really privileged to be able to live comfortably within my means and engage in meaningful work. I meet great people, I get to work on great projects almost all the time, and hopefully, through the work my team does, someone in need gets more help, access to a program, learns something new or moves on a pathway to do something they love or help their loved ones out. I know it’s sometimes at arm’s length, but the end goal is to do some good in the world. That’s a vision and a practice I’m continually defining and refining, but that’s what drives me—that’s what I love.

For those of you who maybe haven’t found that intersection of doing what you love when you’re are work, here are some insights from Fast Company, Forbes, Psychology Today, and Tiny Buddha, with some cautionary direction from the HBR. Me, I think if you’re going to spend that much time away from either people or other passions, all that time should be worth something of meaning to you. So, now that it’s Valentine’s Day – remember what you love. Hug it if it’s huggable. Kiss it if it’s kissable. Thank it. Enjoy it. Whatever IT is. Happy Valentine’s Day. We know it’s not really an official holiday but we like to celebrate it anyway.

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