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I am super happy to welcome my good friend and fellow coach & blogger Christine Livingstone to Reach Our Dreams today. Christine can be found at her fantastic blog A Different Kind of Work. You can connect with Christine on Twitter @coblyn or if you enjoyed this article why not subscribe to her RSS?

Work is something of a puzzle. Because we need to earn money, most of us do it. But it’s not always something we feel happy about, despite giving it hours of our lives.

The people who’ve cracked it have a simple solution: find what you love and turn it into something from which you can make money. When Jen suggested I write a post on loving work, I must admit that’s the direction my thoughts first took. But, the more I thought about it, the more I had to admit that my own journey to doing the work I love was not text-book: it took me time to crystallize what my true passions were, and longer still both to give myself permission to follow them and to turn them into an endeavor from which I make money.

And I remembered months, if not years, of living in a kind of no man’s land, doing work I resented, but which paid my way in life, whilst I waited for that magic, future day to arrive when I could do the work I loved.

Still, my yearnings provoked me to learn some hard-won lessons and it was those I decided to share in this post. In a nutshell, they’re about how you can love the work you do right now, whilst still being on a journey to the work you love. These lessons not only transformed my experience of the work I was doing then but also propelled my personal growth and speeded up my journey to what I do now.

See love as a choice

I used to think that love was some nebulous, gooey feeling over which I had no control. Either something would affect me strongly or it wouldn’t. But then, thanks to reading stuff like M Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled, I had an epiphany.

Love was something I could choose!

Now, I’m not talking about head-over-heels romantic love or the love that you feel for family and children.

I’m talking about an attitude, energy, a frame of mind I can adopt in extending myself to my self and others. A quality that I choose to bring forward from myself that fundamentally changes both how I feel about myself, and how I relate to others.

How would it be if I chose both to love what I was doing right there and then, and to be loving towards others at work?

Be yourself

I learned that being loving at work means being myself as openly as I know how in any situation.

Work often requires that we wear some kind of social mask, or that we leave our selves at home. Being loving means bringing all of ourselves: our talents, values, ethics, and beliefs.

I found that the more I dared to be loving at work, the less I could play games, or leave unchallenged behavior that was unacceptable to me. I learned that love wasn’t a soft touch, and that being loving towards others often meant being straight and honest.

Conversely, I learned that being loving to myself sometimes meant disengaging from situations that I could not influence, and that would damage me if I tried.

Lighten up

I noticed along the way how heavy it was to carry around with me all that resentment about work. It didn’t make me feel good and who knew what it was doing for anyone around me.

Loving the work you do means sloughing off any ill-feeling you might be held about it. Let it go, shake yourself free of it, and choose to bring brightness to no matter what work you do in the present.

Adopt curiosity

During my times of disliking my work, I could be quite critical and judgemental of people and things around me. Along the way, however, I learned that love doesn’t judge and engages with things with interest and curiosity.

I found it helped, even if my initial reaction was to think someone was crazy, to stand in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. People are so bound up in their own worldview that they can’t help themselves sometimes. It didn’t mean I had to accept their view, but it did mean that I didn’t have to carry around any hostility because of a difference of opinion about it.

There were times when I was curious as to why manufacturers made beautiful wooden tables. I started picking wooden planks and looking for books (Best woodworking books) and the best woodworking tools (Best wood chisels, Best circular saw, Wood level, Best Makita drill)

Love understands the difference and doesn’t need to be right.

Practice forgiveness

Finally, I learned that being loving means being forgiving. I tried forgiving clients who wouldn’t follow my consulting advice, or who acted towards me disrespectfully. I practiced forgiving colleagues who wanted to compete with me. I sought to forgive myself for any judgment I may have had towards either. It helped to say little silent affirmations in their direction.

Again, forgiving doesn’t mean that you collude or condone, but it does set you free from getting entangled in all kinds of negative emotions that weigh you down.

It may sound as if loving the work you do requires a lot of effort. Yes and no. Yes, because it requires self-discipline and courage, moment by moment. No, because, if you are loving, you free pent-up energy that you can then use for other things. Like moving toward the work you really, really love.

How do you bring love into your work? What results does it have for you and for others?

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