Work is Freedom

I had lunch with a friend of mine the other day and she said something that I found startling: "Work is paid slavery." I'd heard the term "wage slave" before, but I guess it never registered with me. My friend wanted more control over her work hours, income, etc., but you can imagine that if "work is paid slavery," she won't have much luck until that belief changes. When I asked her where that belief came from, she said her father. He had always said: "Work is paid slavery."

Most of us spend many of our waking hours at work. How we think about those hours will determine how good or bad we feel about our lives.

How would you complete the sentence: "Work is...."?

Changing Limiting Beliefs
Almost everyone I talk to has limiting beliefs about money and/or work. I worked with my friend using the walking belief change described in Debug Your Mental SoftwareWhen it came time to come up with a new belief, she struggled. She even asked me: "What's the opposite of slavery?" So strong was the old belief that she couldn't think of the opposite.

I said: "Oh, you mean work is freedom." She was stunned. I continued: freedom to set your own hours, your level of income, your free time. Just a little peek into the opposite of "work is slavery" was a revelation. We talked about it some more and then I walked her through installing the new belief. 

Your Family Can Be Your Biggest Critic
She went home that evening and put sticky notes everywhere with the message "work is freedom." Her husband saw the notes and laughed out loud. He said: "That's what the Nazi's wrote over the entry to Auschwitz."

In a matter of seconds, he'd reframed "work is freedom" into Nazi logic. She was crushed. The phrase"Arbeit Macht Frei" actually means work will set you free or work is liberation, not work is freedom.

When I saw her the next week, I had to do some reframing of my own to help her embrace the fledgling belief. We tweaked it to "purposeful work is freedom."

What's Your Work Belief?
If you think work is slavery, you'll end up working in an unfulfilling job regardless of how much it pays. If you think work is freedom, you'll enjoy your work because it fulfills you. I call it "soul work." If you're doing the work you love, it will be energizing, freeing.

I had breakfast at my local Perkins yesterday. Kristin took my order. She was bubbly and full of energy compared to the other waitresses. I watched as she remembered everything a family of four staying at a neighboring hotel had ordered the day before. Kristin loved people and loved her job. She has the kind of attitude and work ethic that employers crave.

What's your work belief? Does it limit you? Could you tune it up to live a better life right now? If most of us are going to spend 30 years working, shouldn't we try to make it enjoyable? Could it be that work is freedom or right work is energizing or something even better?

Are you a wage slave or a free agent? The choice is up to you.

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