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What is work?

I was recently asked to answer this question. 

Or to put it another way – what does work mean to me?

And I realised that as freelancers we really should have asked ourselves this question the day we decided to quit our jobs, put little Johnny in the nursery or got that sewing machine out.

What is work, and what does it mean to you?

I mean we all do it.  Either for free, washing up, hoovering, putting the clothes out to dry (ok, so I have a cleaner and a tumble dryer, but you know what I mean). Or we get paid for it, designing a website for someone, coaching someone to be a better version of themselves or creating gorgeous earrings. And the third way – free, but kind of like paid employment; volunteering.  And I’m sure at times in our lives we’ve had a go at all three.

So, what does work mean to you? Why do it? How does it fit into your everyday life? How much of it do you want to do? How do you want to be rewarded for it?

And why is it important to answer these questions?

If we truly understand what work means to us, why we do it, how we want to get rewarded (be that a smile or a fat pay cheque), and what is important to us.

Is making a positive impact important, or is it more about earning money to buy a nice house in a nice area so your kids can go to a good school, or earning enough so you can travel around the world while working?

Are you looking at other people working and thinking I want some of that, how are they doing that? How could I do that?

Or are you looking at people working and wondering ‘how can they do that’? How can they do that day in and day out? I couldn’t do that.

There are so many different types of ‘working’ and they don’t all suit everyone.

When you’ve discovered what working means to you – what the value of working is and what its value is to you; then you can think about and really create a business that suits you.

Really, it’s all about making sure that you know what work is to you. And then aligning it to your values. Creating work that suits you.

This will anchor you as you build your business, decide which clients you want to work with and the work you want to do with them.

Sometimes we will all have to make amendments to our ideals, but we need to be aware of what those are how far we are prepared to bend to ‘work’.

This will give us a blueprint, a beginning, a foundation.

And if you’re already well along your self-employed path it might be worth considering these questions so that you can bring yourself back into alignment.  If something doesn’t feel right in your business, maybe you aren’t quite doing the work that you set out to do.  You may have been swept up by a generous offer, or needed money and so took work that didn’t quite feel right.

Knowing just what you want will take you half way there. You’ll recognise it when it appears. 

After all, how can we get there if we don’t know where we are going?