Have you heard of the retirement clock? It’s a novelty item that tells time by counting down the hours until a person can hang it up and hit the golf course. Too many people view their jobs as that thing they dread, even among those in highly sought-after fields. They feel like hamsters on a wheel, reaching one career high after another, seemingly successful, yet remaining plagued by a vague sense of dissatisfaction. That’s been especially true since the start of the pandemic, when many have been forced to face up to the fact that they have been working too many hours while trying to divide their time between their jobs and their families.
Accomplishment and Success Are Not the Same Thing
Success in life is about more than what you do, and it’s certainly about more than profits; it’s about human fulfillment. Perhaps we need to change the way we view success by changing the way we look at work. It puts food on the table, sure. But more than that, it’s an important part of the human experience. It is how we participate in the plan of creation and contribute to the common good. After all, Jesus worked. Our faith teaches us that to work is sacred, as is the person doing the work, as are the people who benefit.
Assuming your employer is meeting the basic obligations of fair pay, reasonable work hours, and is giving you enough autonomy that you don’t feel like a robot, here are some keys to changing your attitude about success, no matter where you are on the organizational chart.
Five Key Ways to Enhance the Meaning and Importance of Your Work
1. View your work as a gift and as part of your legacy. It is here that you can interact with, influence, and change the lives of those around you.
2. Your job is a way to meet your needs, but also the needs of your neighbor. Share the rewards by giving back.
3. An effective leader respects the dignity of others and allows them to share in decision making on how the company uses either the work of their hands or the work of their intellect. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or share the credit.
4. If you’re a supervisor, always remember that what is produced, and the money made from it are never as important as the people producing it. This means providing your employees with fair compensation for the work they do, but also getting to know them as individuals. We all want to be acknowledged, no matter where we land in the chain of command.
5. Finally, keep in mind that God rested on the seventh day. Know when it’s time to put down the phone, power down the computer, and then, spend time doing what will matter most when you look back on your life and gauge your success. For most of us, that means spending time loving those around us, whether it’s family, friends or even strangers in need.
Curtis Martin, co-founder of FOCUS, recently said, “This generation of Catholics is responsible for this generation of people.” Live up to that responsibility. Do it well, and you will be a success, something worth remembering when your retirement clock finally winds down.
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