Desperation & Inspiration

We work out of desperation or inspiration. They are the driving factors behind all our actions. They determine where we work, why we do it, and if we are willing to take a risk and seek change when necessary.

If the primary reason you go to work is to put food on the table and keep the bills paid, that is working out of desperation. However, if you would work even if you didn't get paid, that is working for inspiration. Inspired work is getting paid to live your passion in a nurturing environment.

All of us would love to have inspired work, but it takes time to find the right fit. There are times you must work out of desperation, but please do not do it for long. Taking a job in a crunch to pay some bills is a desperate job, but that does make it a career path.

We have all met someone who took a job "just to pay the bills", then 10 years later they still work the same job. They allowed a job choice made in desperation turn in to a career. The key to inspired work is focusing on ways to achieve your long-term goals, in addition to making an income.

Let's look at the root of both words. Desperation comes from desperate. Desperate. That is not a word that most people like being attached to in other contexts. No one wants to date because they are desperate. However, when it comes to work, people take a job out of desperation far too often.

The root of inspiration is inspire. We all want to be inspired and be inspiring to others. It conjures up images of artists and designers with a lightbulb twinkling above their head. They had an "ah ha" moment. Wouldn't that be a fun place to work, people constantly smiling with lightbulbs twinkling? Maybe that is a bit out there, but inspiring work creates ideas, nurtures them, and watches them grow. That is how I want to work.

Working out of desperation means you must do it. You have no other choice. You need to put food on the table and fix the roof that is leaking in on your living room couch. If you did not get your latest paycheck, you might fall behind on payments or have your items repossessed.

Desperate working puts your employer in the driver's seat. You do what you're told. Desperate workers are trying not to get fired. They do what they have to do to get a paycheck. Their job is simply a job. It is not a career or a passion. It is a paycheck. If someone down the street would pay $2 more per hour, they would switch.

Inspiration on the other hand is what gets you up in the morning. It consumes your thoughts, even when you should be focusing on other things. It is what you would do if money was not an object. If you had a day to do whatever you wished, this would be it.

Inspired workers take ownership of their creations. They seek personal growth and new opportunities. They get to work early, work while they are there, and stay late because they are in love with what they are creating. They bring new ideas to their team, rather than waiting on tasks to be assigned. They love what they are doing and can't believe they get paid to do it. Their workplace is where they get paid to seek their passion.

I think we would all agree that inspiration work sounds a lot better than desperate work. But how do we get there? How do you transition from a job of desperation to one of inspiration?

The first step is setting goals. If you do not know what you are looking for, you will settle for anything. Be specific in your expectations, yet flexible in their appearance. Understand the principles of your ideal position, but understand they can manifest themselves in many industries or places.

Then make it happen. When you find a good fit (or create it), your stress level plummets. No longer will you wake up dreading work. Now it is a place to thrive, rather than merely get by. You have found inspired work.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this? Am I on track, or completely off course? I want your opinion.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK