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Jim Bishop | It’s a holiday weekend – go labor on!

Another Labor Day weekend is here, and once again, I lament not having a holiday on Monday.

Aaaww, let’s have a pity party. I quickly acknowledge that this will be a “business as usual” day for people in a host of capacities – retail outlets, hospitals, media outlets, emergency services, restaurants, etc. Probably more people will be laboring Monday than those who make it one last hurrah to mark the passage of summer 2009.

Some time back I saw a cartoon of a guy sitting in a small boat in the middle of a lake, fishing pole in hand. A sticker on the side of his craft reads, “I’d rather be working.”

A parallel sentiment has been expressed many times, many places – “Work fascinates me. I can sit and watch it for hours.”

We’ve all been there, done that, but what a blessing, I often think, that despite the times of tedium and repetition that accompany any job, one can give thanks when the challenges and satisfactions far outweigh the hassles. Beyond this, I’m thankful to be gainfully employed when so many people aren’t as fortunate.

What makes work more than routine, more than just a paycheck, especially when I ‘m starting my 39th year in the same position at the same location?

Here’s a “meditation” that I clipped some time ago and keep next to the place where I invest many waking hours – my office computer:

“I do not understand what I do.

For what I want to do

I do not do.

But what I hate

I do.

For I have the desire to do what is good,

but I cannot carry it out.

For what I do is not the good I want to do;

No, the evil I do not want to do –

this I keep on doing.

I find this law at work:

When I want to do good,

evil is right there with me.”

Does this at all remind you of your situation – a harried employee hoping and praying that something better is just around the corner? I trust not.

(In case you’re wondering, it was lifted directly from the Bible – Romans 7:15 and 19-21 from the New International Version).

Before you throw The Book at me, consider several techniques that I commend to inject some freshness into a stale daily routine.
. When facing a task that can easily get one bogged down – a personal example would be a news story that I’ve been told to write but don’t think it deserves priority – don’t put it off but tackle it head on, then reward yourself upon satisfactory completion with some more pleasant diversion.
. Develop an avocation, preferably one that relates to your primary occupation and can help invigorate the more repetitive aspects of daily toil. For me, it’s my weekly radio work that I enjoy even more than writing and am grateful for this outlet. Such a pursuit should also serve as helpful preparation for retirement, which is quickly becoming a part of my vocabulary.
. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent or convinced that “my way – the Bishop way – is the only or the best way” to achieve work-related goals and objectives. I keep reminding myself of the need for openness to others’ ideas and proposals especially as I age “grayfully.”
. Another pointer: Give words or notes of affirmation regularly to your work colleagues. What an amazing difference a few well-timed words of encouragement can make on attitudes and productivity, and the bestower winds up feeling good in the process.

We spend so many waking hours at our work, why need not be so laborious – at least not constantly – but rather should stir a sense of pride and determination to deliver a quality product or service while evoking a sense of pleasure and fulfillment. Visualize getting paid for something you enjoy doing – who could ask for anything more? (OK, maybe a raise).

Someone said, “If you look forward to Mondays more than to Fridays, you’re in danger of becoming successful.”

Ponder that thought, but be careful – Were we to arrive at that place, we’d have to deal with all the pressure of success.

Will success spoil Jim Bishop? I’m willing to take that chance.


– Column by Jim Bishop

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