Labor Day, which is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September, is the signal to our family that a new school year is beginning. Building to this weekend, I relished in the smell of new pencils, the excitement of labelling folders, and a new outfit ready to be worn. I felt that as a child, then as a teacher, and now as a parent. Seldom did I pay attention to the meaning of this holiday.
The labor movement in the late 19th century is said to have created this holiday as a dedication to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
As I have changed my focus from teaching in a traditional sense to educating and working with people in regards to their "stuff," I have a new and different perspective on Labor Day, and what work means.
I recently heard an interesting report on the value of work. Studies show that those who view their job as a calling work more hours, are physically and emotionally healthier, and have richer, happier lives. Workers who view their jobs as a "means to an end" show just the opposite.
Months ago, I wrote a blog about value, time, and stuff, roughly speaking. If you value your time, and what you do with it, and feel like your job has meaning and value, chances are, you are relatively satisfied with your life. Situations vary, but as a working person, many would say you have reached some pinnacle of success.
Those who struggle to find meaning, or value in their work, count down their hours until quitting time, and value the pay they receive over the time they spend in relation to their job, are often those who also wish to win the lottery, saying they'd quit in a heartbeat if they did so.
I find all of this information fascinating, but additionally, it has caused me to reflect on what I do. Would I quit if I won the lottery? Do I feel forced to work, or do I relish the time I spend doing so?
I can honestly say that I love what I do. I have held many jobs, but only two careers, and I have gained a tremendous respect for the role "work" plays in our lives. As our children grow older, my husband and I emphasize the importance of finding value in work, even when "work" is emptying the dishwasher or cleaning the floor. We encourage them to pursue interests, try new and different things, and be open-minded yet discerning about their experiences. It is a journey I find exciting to think about for them. All three of our girls have shared their desires to be an astronaut/teacher/chef when they grow up, and the reality is often a giant mismatch to their skills and temperaments. Isn't that what growing up is all about...exploring those possibilities? We think so.
I sincerely hope that you find value in what you do. I know that being passionate about something goes a long way towards happiness, especially if fulfilled. My desire to learn, connect with others, and improve my knowledge and skills makes me profoundly better at what I do. I hope we'll have the chance to work together sometime. Until then, Happy Labor Day.