10 Things All Workers Always Need to Remember

Happy Workers’ Day!

Generally around the world, the 1st of May is celebrated as Workers’/Labour Day – a day set aside to celebrate everyone who works hard to eke out a living and cater to those for whom they are responsible (including themselves). It is a day set aside to celebrate the dignity of labour, and the sacrifices that workers have made (and continue to make) in order to keep food on their tables – and the economies of their countries afloat.

Are you a worker? Most likely you are. This article seeks to highlight a number of basic truths you should continue to bear in mind as you continue to pursue your chosen field of labour, be it on a field or in an office.

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1. Work is a means to an end: Work is informally defined as that effort which is put into achieving a particular goal. With respect to labour, work is the effort expended towards getting the job done. With this in mind, we should remember that the work we do is not an end in itself, but a means to achieving our life’s goals. Due to rising rates of unemployment and fierce competition for the limited available jobs, it is easy for workers to lose sight of this fact. Have you heard someone saying – “I have to work hard to get the bills paid”? On the surface this sounds reasonable – but dig deeper and you’ll find that this objective is not the core essence of being a worker. A worker, through labour, finds a means of fulfilling their material needs and also achieving their life goals and aspirations. That’s the bigger picture!

2. Hard work equals hard rewards: The saying goes “no pain, no gain”. One of the reasons we work is for the reward that comes along with it. The only thing here is to make sure that our work is not done because of the rewards alone. Our work needs to focus on adding value through the job itself – this is what eventually translates to fulfilment for the worker. Many workers find themselves in an unending cycle of frustration because they make the reward the main focus of their job, thus isolating the people and relationships that matter the most to them. This then spirals into a cycle of loneliness, which many people then try to douse with even more work and money. Our work needs to be a focused effort which duly answers the question “how is my work adding value to me and others?” Once we grasp this truth and get down to it, the rewards will come naturally!

3. Work should be legal: We earlier defined work as effort. But guess what? It takes effort to perpetuate nefarious activities too! So how do we balance this? First we need to consciously pursue work which is honest – that way our labour will never run foul of civil law or moral codes. Overall this is for the worker’s personal benefit because a good name is indeed more valuable than any illicit material gain. The recent unfortunate happenings in Indonesia where eight drug traffickers were executed after many years in prison act as a strong reminder – no doubt it took a lot of hard work and planning to manage a drug trafficking cartel – but it ended on a sad note for the traffickers. Once we pursue honest and legal work – the due rewards will surely come – no matter how long this might take. We need to remember that patience will make the enjoyment of the gains of decent labour sweeter.

4. Work has its limits too: Biologically, the human body is designed for periods of work and rest. Many studies have been carried out to confirm that good amounts of rest and sleep translate to happier and more productive workers. Don’t push yourself too hard. We know that good amounts of sleep translate to happier, stronger and more productive workers – the very type we need! Those who say things like “sleep is for the weak” often suffer damaging health consequences because of their refusal to respect the body’s need for sleep. Recognize that there will always be work – and you need to be at your best to function well at it.

5. Work is a collaboration: Nobody works alone. Not even the blogger working from home. Every single job involves interacting with other people. These relationships we form are the basis for the work we do. We must recognise this fact and ensure that all our work relationships – be it with colleagues, bosses or associates – are given the attention and respect they deserve. We may not always agree with others – but we need to master our emotional intelligence at work to ensure we give the best of ourselves in our work relationships. The job will thank you for it!

6. Work diligently: Do what you are paid to do (and no less). Once this is done, do some more. Tht extra effort never goes unnoticed or unrewarded. Do it because you can, because you want to be a valuable asset on the job. This applies whether you work for yourself or are employed. Ask any successful career person or entrepreneur…they’ll tell you this fact over and over again. Here’s something to remember – there’s always less traffic on the extra mile – these are the successful people. Don’t be with the “this is not my job” underachievers…join the winning team!

7. Equip yourself with the right skills to do your work: Invest in and focus on your education – it’s the most valuable thing you will do. Why? Because that knowledge equips you with skills and opportunities. Do not pass through the educational system just to gather certificates – become competent in the field so that your skills will sell you. Education is a lifelong endeavour – it never ends. Even if you are a high-flying CEO, you still don’t know it all. Learn more to improve yourself. Ever notice how successful people always seem so versatile and knowledgeable in a wide range of areas? They are continually searching out new knowledge! Go thou and do likewise…

8. Be ambitious: Whether you are seeking to grow in your chosen career, change your career altogether or move from employee to entrepreneur, always keep the bigger picture of your life goals in mind. Do you have a vision board? No? Draw up one now. Consult your vision board regularly and rate where you are in relation to where you want to be. Are you making progress? Do you need to move faster? Are you there yet? Healthy ambition is what drives brilliant workers to achieve great things. Stand out from the crowd of those who are just working for pay. A note of caution though – your personal ambition must never become destructive to you or others. That being said, there is no such thing as being “too ambitious” – so long as it is the good kind of ambition.

9. Improve yourself: Beyond acquiring skills and knowledge through education, continually bear in mind that work is only one facet of your life. There is much more to life – and as a worker you need to allocate your time and resources to learning as much as you can about other important non work-related areas. Take time to master life skills such as cooking, child care and the likes. Work very hard to improve your personal relationships. Doing this  will not only give you a balanced life, but also the confidence to be a better all-round person – who in turn delivers more at work.

10. Work smart: By now you know this simply means working in a productive manner that will not burn you out. Remember though that effort without results will only lead to a dead-end: continuous unhealthy stress and frustration. No successful career ever came out of such a scenario. Make good use of productivity tools – there is a plethora of apps and resources to help you take charge of your productivity. Sometimes though, all you need is a good old to-do list. Stick around the GIDITRAFFIC blog for more on this.

This article first appeared on the GIDITRAFFIC blog.

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