Make a Difference and Say Goodbye to Work Stress

"Whatever You Are, Be a Good One"

Abraham Lincoln

Make a Difference? Me?

Jobs are more than just paychecks. They are social arenas, spiritual workshops, developmental playgrounds, group therapy, and one of the best tools for learning about ourselves. Anyone who has ever been fired from a job can tell you that this significant work stressor was one of the best learning experiences of their life (albeit a painful one). Perhaps more importantly, when we are unhappy at work, we are unhappy at home too. And when we love our work, we spread that feeling around when we aren’t at work. And guess what? The stress just disappears.

People can’t separate the two most important facets of the human existence: work and love. When one is suffering, the other suffers. You’re at work eight hours a day (minimum). You are doing it for a paycheck, sure, but that won’t keep you particularly productive or satisfied. What you need to keep you energized, stress-free, motivated, happy and loyal is more than just your paycheck.

Then what is the key to staying motivated day after day?

If you aren’t sure if your life work is to make other’s lives at least easier, then you are going to hit a wall at some point. In short, to make your work meaningful (and way less stressful), you must see it through the eyes of working for the benefit of others. Much like volunteer work, except in this case you get paid.

For instance, I hope that what I do in my training classes makes a difference by the time my participants leave. My private goal is to ensure that they feel equipped to head back to work with a better understanding of how people tick, what ticks people off, and how to get results from themselves and others. Then, when applying these new skills back at their workplaces, this new way is modeled for customers, citizens, and even their families through example. Pipe dream? Maybe.

But it sure keeps me from hitting the snooze alarm nine times every morning.

Be a Good One TODAY

Have you considered what your direct impact is on co-workers, customers, or citizens? People in such positions as police officers, firefighters, or school teachers can easily connect their jobs and their impact, but what about the rest of us?

What about sewer workers or garbage collectors? Well, we gotta have clean water. What would happen if the garbage was never collected? Finance and accounting types? We all expect our paychecks in a timely and accurate way and this is probably the number one reason you work. Any copy machine sales reps out there, wondering about your purpose? I defy any of us to go one DAY, much less a week, without making a copy of something.

I often hear people say things like, “At least I’m not flippin’ burgers.” What’s wrong with flippin’ burgers? I go through a drive-thru at least once a week to feed myself or my family. I consider that important and I hope the guy on the grill that week does his job well.

Getting the point? Dig deep today and see where you contribute to the larger whole, the larger good. Don’t resist this because it seems too pie-in-the-sky. It’s critical that you find your calling and not just work to get paid. You have GOT to see your impact on your organization, and how this carries over into impacting the city you work in, and then your state…and maybe even the world (okay—did I go overboard?).

If you don’t feel lucky to have your job and get a sense of satisfaction regularly from contributing to making others lives work better…then my advice is to start digging (hey—don’t forget ditch diggers—where would we be without them??)

Start digging and figure out where you contribute. The result will be far less stress as you see the big picture when the day-to-day gets rough.

"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential."

Barack Obama

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