A little more than two years ago, when I started my online business, I decided to clean houses in order to have a steady monthly income. One day, after I was done with the cleaning, one of my clients said, “Thanks for bringing order to the chaos.” Her words made me feel like my work was appreciated and valued. She continued to say this week after week, and it always felt just as nice as it did the first time. This recognition always brought a smile to my face.
You see, for her I wasn’t simply a cleaning lady. I was someone who contributed to the order of her house. With the help of my services, she had time to focus on other things, like writing or grading school tests. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love cleaning day? Nothing compares to the feeling of walking barefoot on a fresh clean floor. It all smells and feels so good.
It was then that I understood that we often undervalue the work that we do. And sometimes this is because we’re too focused on our job titles. We may think we are simply janitors, dishwashers, or assistants. We tend to use quick labels to describe our jobs, without realizing that these barely do any justice to what we do or who we are.
If you’re feeling less worthy because of your job title, start thinking about your job a bit differently. And think about the benefits you bring to others. When somebody asks you What do you do? Dare to put a twist in your answer and use a verb instead of a noun. For instance:
I help people find their dream house. = real estate agent
I tell stories that inspire many. = writer
I help students learn a second language so that they can travel the world. = English teacher
I keep the streets of (insert city here) clean. = city janitor
If you’re feeling shy or afraid that people won’t understand what you’re talking about, you can also start with your job title, followed by the description. For example, you can say: “I’m a realtor. I help people find their dream house.”
Or if you’re like Rachel from Friends, add some humor to your answer. In season 1, episode 4, Rachel tells her girlfriends about her job. But she doesn’t just say “I’m a waitress.” She instead says this:
“I’m not just waitressing. I write specials on the specials board. I take the dead flowers out of the vase. And I sometimes put the little chocolate blobbies on the cookies.”
I believe there’s beauty within every job. However, there will always be people who won’t understand the importance of your work because they’re simply too busy living life. And that’s okay.
The goal isn’t to convince everyone that your job is valuable. And neither should you seek value outside yourself. All that matters is how YOU choose to see YOUR work, and that you’re able to find worth from within.
Whenever you believe your work isn’t unique, try replacing that old belief with this empowering one from the Chopra Centre blog:
“There is no one else who has my exact experience and knowledge and who can serve in the way that only I can.”
Finally, here’s a little activity for you: