By Molly Butler

You know the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” But the idea gets a little more complicated. It’s not just about doing what you love; you also need to love what you do.

People tend to view their work in one of three ways: as a job, as a career, or as a calling. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m so lucky to have found my calling.” More likely, you’re thinking, “I wouldn’t say it’s my calling, but I have goals, and I’m moving forward,” or maybe, “I just need the job, and I don’t have the luxury of enjoying it.” Or, still, more readers are thinking this doesn’t apply to them because they’re retired or raising children instead of working for a paycheck, or they are disabled, or a student. No matter. What occupies your day is your occupation. Wherever you’re coming from, what I want to talk about still applies.

As a psychologist at New York University, Amy Wrzesniewski studied the entire staff of a hospital. What she found was that, at all levels, people were still split in these three mindsets: job, career, calling. Again, this occurred at all levels, regardless of the position.

Our work is not just about what we literally do; it’s what we make of it and the story we tell ourselves.

This means that there were doctors and nurses who saw their work as just a job, who felt motivated only by the paycheck, who were always watching the clock, waiting to leave. There were people at all levels who were not particularly fulfilled by their work but saw opportunities for growth and a path to advancement, and those goals created a form of motivation more fulfilling than a paycheck alone. There were also janitors, people tasked with cleaning bedpans and mopping vomit, who saw their occupation as a calling. They saw themselves as vital members of a team with a goal to heal, they went above and beyond, made their work their own, and found their work intrinsically rewarding.

As human beings, we are always living in two worlds: the real, literal world that can be measured and observed and the world within our minds, built by our thoughts and opinions. Our work is not just about what we literally do; it’s what we make of it and the story we tell ourselves.

If you do what you love, you’re probably a bit more likely to love what you do. But if you’re not able to drop whatever path you’re on to pursue that dream job in your head, don’t worry. You can still begin the work of changing your thoughts. You can find ways to love what you do. Through pride, initiative, and the story you tell yourself, you can inject meaning into your days. Fulfillment is a goal worthy of pursuit.

I hope you have a great weekend and a great workweek as well.

Friday

The American Red Cross will have a blood drive in honor of healthcare workers this Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Store It in Mankato. If you’re interested in donating blood, you can call the Red Cross or head to RedCrossBlood.org and enter storeitmn to schedule a free appointment. Donators will receive a free t-shirt while supplies last.

Looking for art? Head to the Arts Center of Saint Peter to celebrate the opening day of the exhibit, Layered Realities: Recent Work by Bryan Holland. This collection will be viewable through May 29 and features traditional realistic techniques juxtaposed with graphic design elements. Holland will be displaying box sculptures, paintings, and mixed media. Plus, don’t forget to check out Marian Anderson: Her Personal Collection at the Blue Earth County Historical Society, as well as the MSUM Installation at the 4 Pillars Gallery at the Grand in New Ulm, and the photography exhibit, Terrestrial Ghosts, by Areca Roe at the 410 Project in Mankato.

A to Zinnia Florals & Gifts of New Ulm will host their Spring Open House. Stop in and enjoy refreshments, new spring looks, gifts, and home décor, and get a free gift with any purchase over $20. Enjoy their classes on succulent care and houseplant tips and tricks throughout the weekend.

Saturday

Shop ‘til you drop! Mercantile on Main will have their Grand Opening this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at their location in Courtland. They offer a variety of handcrafted and upcycled items from local vendors.

The State Street Theatre in New Ulm will be performing Charlotte’s Web this Saturday from 2-4 p.m. This childhood classic will include all the characters you know and love. Head to their event page for tickets.

We have live music all over southern Minnesota! Becky Borneke and her band, In a Bind, will be performing at Indian Island Winery in Janesville beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the same time High Strung will kick off the evening at the Loose Moose in Mankato. You can also enjoy a SNEAK PEAK at the Sleeping Beauty Live Jazz performance by the Mankato Ballet Company. Get your tickets online. Starting at 7 p.m., Crista Bohlman will perform a variety of instruments at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill in Kasota, and B&B Karaoke will kick off the night at the Oleander Saloon in Mankato.

Sunday

Hope you’re hungry! The Nicollet Fire Department will have their 2021 Pancake Breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon, featuring pancakes, eggs, and sausage for drive-thru or walk-up. Free will donations will be accepted.

This is also a great day to get up and game. Atlantis Hobby will have a $6 entry Yu-Gi-Oh with prizes, as well as helpful staff to help with all your gaming and aquarium needs.

Bonus: Loving What You Do

I remember reading Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki. He’s not an organizing guru or minimalism expert. He wrote the book as just a regular guy who was sick of comparing himself to others and living in stress. He goes on to slowly get rid of everything he deemed inessential, which turned out to be a lot. I remember one of the most shocking parts of the book for me was when he started talking about cleaning.

He got to a point where he actually enjoyed cleaning. I tried to imagine that. There’s a satisfying feeling that comes with an empty sink and a running dishwasher, and certainly having a clean house is rewarding. But that wasn’t what he was talking about. He enjoyed the act of cleaning, not just the end results.

I do believe that with patience, care, and mindfulness, we can come to love whatever we do. This article, A 7-Step Path to Enjoying Work, briefly outlines the ways we can come to love our work and lighten our minds. If you’re feeling bogged down or trapped at work, I would recommend giving some of their tips a try.

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Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.

Author


  • is a writer, gardener, and animal lover. She returned to the Mankato area after completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.