We recently celebrated Labor Day and it’s a good time to reflect on why we work and what we derive from it. The ideal answer should be that it gives your life energy and meaning. If it doesn’t, you might want to consider how to move in that direction.
Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 and now also marks the unofficial end of summer. Summer trips wind down, students leave for college, football season gears up and we anticipate the cooler days of fall with enthusiasm. This is especially true if you are in a hot area of the country, and who doesn’t appreciate a 3-day weekend?
There is now a common understanding that meaningful work is a major component of human well-being. Interestingly, it does not matter whether the work is paid, volunteer or pro- bono, or you are working hard at home raising children.
What We Do Matters
Researchers at the Gallup organization have been exploring the subject for decades. A not-so-startling finding: Our happiness and feelings of well-being are a function of liking what we do each day.
Tom Rath and Jim Harter explain in their book, Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, “…at a fundamental level, we all need something to do, and ideally something to look forward to, when we wake up each day. What you spend your day doing each day shapes your identity, whether you are a student, parent, volunteer, or retiree…” Yet only 20% gave a strong “yes” when Gallup researchers asked, “Do you like what you do each day?” If 80% are unhappy with daily activities, the rest of their life is likely to be out of whack and it’s likely your well-being will suffer.
If you are to successfully live your life, your health, relationships, social connections, your sense of place, the fact that you are where you belong in terms of where you live, work, and interact with friends and people, as well as your spiritual home, are all key components of well-being.
When you reinforce your talent with knowledge and skill, you have strength. A talent is a naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior productively applied. A skill is the ability to move through the fundamental steps of a task. Knowledge is what we know. A strength, then, is a powerful, productive combination of talent, skill, and knowledge. When you are doing anything from strength, you feel it, you know it, and you love it.
If you want to recalibrate and infuse your life with new energy, a revitalized sense of purpose, and a sense of comprehensive well-being, remember that:
What you do matters. You matter. Build your strengths.
-Paul R. Rossi, CFA
Picture: SR-71 spy plane, it was the United States most advanced and fastest flying plane in the world, literally flying faster than a speeding bullet. It carried no weapons and was designed in an era when engineers used a slide rule. The SR-71's sole purpose was to keep the United States safe by being able to capture photos of our enemies' movements. The SR-71 was shot at many times, but was never shot down, as it was designed and flown by people who had an unbelievable sense of purpose.