Back when I was working my corporate job, I had this image on the desktop of my work computer. It was an Anthony Burrill print that said “Work Hard and Be Nice to People.”
I displayed it proudly, feeling like it made a statement about who I was (or wanted to be). Humble, driven, people-pleasing, kind, focused. And while this phrase still very much resonates with and motivates me, it’s my definition of work that’s shifted from then to now.
What does the word “work” even mean?
I have found that the definition changes from person to person, making this is a favorite dinner party topic of mine.
I have found that the look of and feelings around “work” are programmed into our brains in our early years.
It’s how we saw our parents define in it. It’s how our teachers rewarded it. It’s how we saw the world and how it worked. Essentially, we all adapt to our definitions of work as a way to feel like we belong – in our tribe, in our family, in the world.
My work story is a complex one. I grew up in a household where both parents had graduate degrees and worked in high level government and corporate jobs. Belonging in my family meant excelling academically and working in a large organization. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just how I was initially programmed to view “work” and “success”. So, when I got my high-level manager position at my corporate job, I felt a familiar sense of relief flood my body. I had made it. I belonged in my tribe. I had succeeded. But, if you know my story, you know that life was’t the right fit for me and I’ve been spending the last several years un-learning all of these mindsets and behaviors I took on to find my own sense of personal freedom and contentment in this world.
I was the girl who glorified the term busy. Busy meant important. Busy meant full. Busy meant belonging. But busy was hurting my body, my connection with my loved ones, and my access to my intuition.
Busy had to go.
And, even with all of my progress, I find this concept of hard work still comes up for me now and then. Now that I’m my own boss, I’ve found myself facing a new work story. The work-so-hard-it-hurts entrepreneurial mentality I see permeating start-up culture doesn’t motivate me. It freaks me out and gives me the feeling that I’m at risk being kicked out of the pack if I don’t fall in line and do something that doesn’t come naturally to me.
So I don’t. I have been coming up with my own feminine prescription for hustle and flow.
How do we untangle from this concept of work being hard, a struggle, and exhausting? Here are some of my methods: