It seems quite apropos that as I work on this article I find myself in Hawaii at my dear friend’s Shift the Meaning of Work Retreat.
At first, I was a little hesitant to use the word “work” to describe what I’m doing. It sure doesn’t feel much like work to do something I enjoy in such a beautiful place. But then I was reminded of something that really fits with the intention of this retreat.
“Work is love made visible.”
Kahlil Gibran sums it up quite profoundly in that statement. Those five words shifted the meaning of work in my life quite drastically when I read them a few months ago.
Work is neither something to resist nor use to measure your worth based on how much money you make or don’t make. It is simply our opportunity to bring more light into the world through our actions—whether that is writing an article, cleaning a pool, or making a cup of coffee.
My relationship with “work” has shifted quite a bit over the past few years. As I am paving my own path—as any of us do who are following our “Must”—a lot can come up around this idea of work. When I first launched my business, I renounced the term as it seemed to indicate something I had to do as opposed to something I wanted to do. With this resistance to the term “work,” I also noticed how I carried with it a few other beliefs.
Does work have to be something unenjoyable? Is work only reserved for something that earns money? If I’m not making money doing something I love and get another job, have I somehow failed or given up?
These were the sorts of questions rattling around my psyche.
Then, when I talked with others who, like me, were paving their own path and pursuing their “Must,” a lot of shame came up around needing to “work” in order to pay their bills. This is definitely something I can relate to. The time has come where I have drained my resources and am in need of finding a way to contribute to covering my expenses.
I started to explore what it meant to get another job. These questions of shame crept in, but when I returned to Gibran’s reminder, I was reassured that no one form of work is “better” than another. Just because I have multiple ways of working in the world does not mean I’m not good enough. It simply means I choose to show my love in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons.
The important thing isn’t whether or not you have multiple ways of working but rather the intention behind that work—fear or love.
The first says, “I’ll never make it as a [fill-in-the-blank] so I’d better get a real job” or maybe “How in the world will I survive if I’m not earning money NOW?” Whereas the other says, “It would feel so good to meet new people, serve others, or contribute to my current lifestyle.”
When we stay present to the fact that work is our opportunity to show more love, whatever we end up doing becomes an avenue to express what we truly value and desire to see more of in the world.
So if you’ve ever wondered if having another job is some sign of failure or not being good enough, just remember there are multiple ways of making love visible in the world—some you receive payment for, some not—and no one way is better than another.