Three Keys to Loving Your Job
70% of Americans hate their job. Here’s Judaism’s formula for loving your work.
Recent studies about employment reveal that the average American switches between 7 – 10 jobs in a lifetime. Among the main reasons for this growing trend is lack of satisfaction from their position. Studies show that close to 70% of Americans hate their job.
Judaism teaches that we should love our jobs, as the Mishna says, “Love work” (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:10). Abarbanel, the medieval commentator who served as treasurer to the King and Queen of Spain at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, explains that the word “love” suggests that we should approach our jobs with immense joy and satisfaction.
What is Judaism's formula for loving your job? Here are three keys:
1. Alignment with your core values
The Talmud (Berachot 43B) teaches that God instills each person with a natural attraction to the trade he is designated to work in.
So, what are you most passionate about? We all have values but which ones resonate most with you? Do you accentuate ambition, contentment, efficiency or creativity?
When aligned properly, our jobs provide the opportunity to live by and promote the values that are most important to us.
2. Alignment with your core skills
The Talmud (Kiddushin 82A) teaches that one should choose a trade that is “light.” One explanation is to avoid jobs that exhaust our energies, stripping us of the physical and emotional energies we need for our personal development, families and other responsibilities outside of work.
The classical work, Duties of the Heart (Gate of Trust, Chapter 3) teaches that each person is created with the skills, characteristics and nature designed for occupation he will work in. Being involved in activities that utilize these skills in conjunction with our personality will imbue us with energy and therefore exemplify a ‘light’ trade.
What are you best at doing? Is it analyzing information, interacting with people or physical activity which is more hands on?
Which types of activities energize you? Are you charged after interacting with people or need some alone time to recharge your batteries? How do you feel after sitting in front of a computer for 5 hours in a comfortable office chair?
Each job position requires a range of tasks and competencies. This key teaches that your job should revolve around those tasks that you excel in and bring vitality.
3. Alignment with your core expression
Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya (Avot of Rabbi Natan, Chapter 21, v.B) praises work because a worker takes pride in his profession. This is not teaching that one’s self esteem should come from one’s job but rather that one’s job is meant to serve as a receptacle for his self-expression in the world.
What light do you bring to the world and how does your presence affect the people around you? Is your job in line with your unique way to improve your surroundings and the people you interact with?
In summary, ensuring that your job is aligned with your values, skills and core expression are vital keys for loving your job. Disalignment in these areas can leave you feeling frustrated, unappreciated, unfulfilled and exhausted!
Some people mistakenly make their career their life mission. Judaism teaches that one’s job is not their life mission but it is meant to serve as a means to express one’s life mission. Done correctly, one’s work is a healthy and natural expression of one’s inner being and core self. In this natural environment we will find ourselves both more fulfilled and successful in our career.