Tuesday, September 22, 2015

If you enjoy your work, it’s not a job

Over the Labor Day weekend, a frequent comment I heard from friends and family was, “Where did the summer go?” During the long winter months everyone looks ahead with anticipation to the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day.

Then the July 4th holiday sneaks up on us and in the blink of an eye it’s Labor Day. It seems like summer comes and goes in about the time it takes to walk the five miles across the Mackinac Bridge.

The purpose of Labor Day, of course, is to salute the American workforce. And my, how the workforce has changed since President Cleveland signed the law enacting Labor Day in 1894.

According to the Department of Labor, there were nearly 18 million American workers in unions in 1983. In 2014 the number of union members had fallen to just over 14.5 million.

As with so many things in our society, people tend to have very strong opinions one way or another about unions. As the auto unions are about to begin contract negotiations we’ll be hearing plenty of passionate opinions, both pro- and anti-union.

I believe that, regardless of union status, American workers are essentially dedicated and hardworking. That being said, I wonder just how many Americans like or enjoy their work.

Without question, the makeup of the workforce and the nature of many jobs in our nation have changed dramatically over the years. Rosie the Riveter during World War II began the influx women into the workforce.

More recently, service sector jobs and technology have dramatically changed the atmosphere and character of a typical workday. In other words, there are no typical workers or typical jobs.

Since Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the school year, I encourage students to study with the objective of graduating with more than just a job. Work toward finding a field that is rewarding both financially and emotionally.

Find something you’re passionate about and that you’ll love doing day after day. I have encountered many people who are counting the days until they can retire and do something they’ll truly enjoy.

I was recently talking to a retired auto executive client who is passionate about his Corvettes and Corvette Club activities. He was surprised to learn I grew up in an automotive family and my high school and college job was buffing out automobiles.

It was great experience. I liked it, the money was decent and I learned a thing or two. But it was just a job, not a career. Not something I would want to do for 30 or 40 years.

I’ve been extremely fortunate for many years. As a financial adviser, I’m just as enthusiastic about my career as my client is with his Corvette Club. In other words, my work is my passion.

Life, like summer, is over much too soon. If you can find an enjoyable career to make a living, great! A workday does not have to be dull or boring.

Labor Day is an American tradition and a well-earned day off. People get up and go to work every day. As you study and prepare for the workforce, try to do everything you can to put yourself in a position where your work is your passion.

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