Pattern Language of Work

Are you “Working for the Weekend?” The Patterns in Language of Work, Job and Play

Whether you are a future cubicle escapee longing for satisfying work or corporate refugeehaving been displaced by downsizing, right sizing or some other means of being severed from a corporate career – you have used the pattern language of work.  Its meaning can be different to different people.

When I talk to people about work, some of the patterns in language emerge.  When ‘work’ does not allow us to use our talents and or is not aligned with our values, some of the patterns I have observed are:

Ball and chain
Can’t wait until 5:00 pm
TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday)
Working for the Weekend
It’s hard
It sucks
Marking Time
I need a vacation
Low energy

There are many more words and phrases. These are just a few.

We use the word ‘work’ when we talk about school – for example ‘home-work.’  When you need to do something, you have to ‘work’ on it.  When you look at a project, you might say, "That’s a lot of work."

Words create your world.  When people talk about work their energy tends to drop, and their facial expressions show a variety of things, but it often does not contain a smile.  In many cases the feeling or mood is one of dis-empowerment.

However, when what we do to earn a living is aligned with our values and allows us to do what we do best every day, the patterns in language are different.

In Janine Moon’s book "Career Ownership: Creating ‘Job Security’ in Any Economy" she states: "Throughout the book I consciously use the word "work" rather than job.  "Job" signifies some level of responsibility that you step into and out of during certain hours and under certain conditions.  "Work" is something you do because it’s your contribution, it’s an expression of your talents, and it’s your heart and soul.  Your work is distinctly you and the contribution only you can make to your organization’s mission."

I love this pattern in language of using ‘work’ versus ‘job.’

Sam Waterston, the actor that played district attorney on the series Law and Order stated about his work, "It isn’t work; it is just long hours of fun."  I found this statement to be very profound.  It falls in the pattern language of play.  What if the way you earned a living wasn’t work, but just long hours of fun? What would change in your life?  Who would you become? For most people, they cannot even imagine work as being long hours of fun.

Some of the patterns in language that emerge for play that I have observed:

Can’t wait
Want to
Time flies when you are having fun
Looking forward to
High Energy

When you listen to people talking about how they earn a living – what patterns in language do you notice?

It can tell you a lot about how well aligned their talents and values are aligned with how they earn a living.

I watched a Ted Talks video by Stuart Brown entitled "Play is More Than Fun."  What stuck in my mind the most was a statement he made: "The opposite of Play is not Work.  The opposite of Play is Depression." For me this explained a lot about why Gallup researchshows that 71% of people feel disengaged from work. We need more fun and the spirit of play in our work to be engaged. We need to be able to express our talents and true self more at work, which is naturally more satisfying and fun.  It makes us come alive.  But old industrial outdated mindsets about managing people, and how ‘work’ gets done sometimes create obstacles to allowing people to do this in a corporate setting.

What patterns in language do you notice when you talk about what you do to earn a living? Are the patterns in language of Work?  Or patterns in language of Play? The patterns in language are a tell tale sign of how we feel about how we earn a living.  How do we get from wanting to be a cubicle escapee to having long hours of fun at work?

I believe that the heart of it is understanding ourselves, knowing and understanding our talents, being able to articulate those talents to the people and organizations or clients that need them.  This could mean that we become a soul-o-preneur and offer our talents on a fee paid basis like a consultant, working in a new position, creating a new position by building a business case for it, or working for a different company that is a much better match to our talents, values, and preferred work environment.

We need to find our best work.  It may not be a perfect match, but given the market, our personal financial situations, it is our best work. Our best work will continue to evolve as we do.  Would you like to know how to do that?  One way is through the discipline of Career Ownership. You can learn more by taking the Your Best Work, Find It, Love It, Live It telecourse.

And finally, I will end with a quote that was recently shared with me (Thanks Janine Moon!) that I found inspiring.   "Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."  -Dr. Howard Thurman


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.


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