Putting Work in its Place
  • Dec 06, 2017

Putting Work in its Place

When we hear work, we think hard. I don’t like the phrase ‘hard work’ because it associates pain to work that keeps most people away from work when they should be embracing it to derive the value it certainly delivers.

As a child growing up, I heard these statements a lot from my parents, teachers, and just about every well-meaning aunt, uncle, older cousin, etc;

“You have to study hard to pass exams.”

“You have to work hard in life to be successful”

So, whenever I had work to do, I pushed it off to the last minute because, I learned to see work as something to be avoided, pushed aside until ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Now, as an adult, I have been questioning this misconstrued view of work because I am learning to see work as a good thing. It is a necessary part of life, and the minute we wake up every morning we work.

We do work when we prepare food to eat, take a bath, brush our teeth, and dress up. You name an activity, even the ones you enjoy doing, and I can prove to you that even that is work. From the Oxford Dictionary, we learn that work is “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”

You may say, “But Ukot, I’m not doing any work when I am playing a game.”

My response is a question. “Does playing the game require mental or physical effort, and are you aiming to achieve a desired purpose or result?”

If you answer yes, which I bet you will, then the authority (Oxford) says you are doing work.

This goes to buttress the point made by that popular advice about doing what you love so you will never do a day of work in your life.

You see, the thing is when we do what we love we don’t see it as work even though it is, in fact, work. Work viewed through the right lenses is not something to be dreaded but appreciated for its inherent value.

Here’s where I’m headed. We all have work to do but while some of us jump in and get the work done, most of us struggle to do work especially when it is something we don’t enjoy. If it is something you must do, what I have found that works for me is simply to get it done with the right mindset and attitude because anything short of this turns valuable work into an arduous task.

Yes, I recognize that work is going to task you mentally or physically but choose instead to focus on the value at the end of the process: the clean kitchen sink after the dishes are done; the clear head and desk after the report is completed; the proceeds from sales after that book is written; the healthier look and feeling after so many days of consistent dieting and exercise.

What is that task you have been procrastinating? Think of the value you will obtain after it’s done. Let this motivate you to get up and get the work done.

I have adopted the mantra that there is no such thing as hard work; there is just work and the natural response to work is to just do it. Don’t worry about getting it done, that only makes the effort required to get the work done grow bigger and bigger in your mind. Don’t procrastinate, that will only keep your mind clogged with worry about getting the work done.

Put work in its right place, and just do it.


Ukot Umezinne is a Nigerian learning consultant that specializes in experiential learning design and content development. She is the co-founder and a Director of The Life Skills Experts, a leading provider of life skills solutions to children and youth in Leadership, Creativity, Communication, Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship.

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