We are so much more than our jobs.
When you do what you're good at, and what you enjoy, they say it's easy to go to work. But what happens when your job falls into the creative realm and it is literally your job to be creative? Slowly, the fun starts to fade and the stress of work will settle in. How do you bring back the joy that once existed between you and your muse (i.e. creative writing)? The answer: find something meaningful to work on that truly matters to you, or will bring pure joy to someone you know and love.
Most often, what you do at work doesn't necessarily bring joy to anyone – yes, even your boss or coworkers. What it does bring is fulfillment of expectations, and that is a completely different type of satisfaction in your work. Don't get me wrong — it's great to get a promotion and a raise for excellent work or a wow-what-a-great-idea mention in a meeting — but is that all you need to be satisfied? For me, I am starting to realize that the answer is no.
My days are most often filled with copy writing for social media and web, writing email pitches to editors, making media and communications plans, and if I'm lucky: taking photos. I really love working on the creative side and weighing in on graphic elements to projects, but that's not my job. In fact, we have an entire team of super talented individuals whose job that actually is. And lucky for me, they take my suggestions... sometimes.
Recently, I was able to work on a creative project outside of work at the request of a new friend. She works in the kids' ministry at our church, and she needed someone to create a graphic project for the holidays to help families talk about the meaning of the Christmas season with their little ones. Weeks prior, she heard me mention that I designed my wedding invitations, and asked if I would be able to help. I practically jumped at the opportunity (and simultaneously enrolled one of my super-talented coworkers to help – see, sneaky!).
It wasn't a big project – nothing earth-shattering – but it was the most amazing feeling to be asked for two reasons: 1) I would be able to utilize a talent that I have in a world outside of work, and 2) I didn't have to ask for the opportunity. She remembered a brief conversation we had about graphic design, and she was able to connect that to a need that she had for an organization that we both love. Without even realizing it, she had given me an opportunity that I had been longing for – an opportunity to use my career-oriented skills in a non-work environment.
Whether its woodworking or graphic design, counseling or taxes, it's important to find a meaning for your talents in an environment that isn't giving you a weekly paycheck. Volunteer to do your friends' taxes (and help them learn how!). Join a committee of professionals in your area working toward something good. Help a friend with a project. There is no greater joy than seeing your work make change in the lives of others.
How can you make an impact using your career-related skills and passions?