Is It OK To Marry Your Work? (part 1)

March 23, 2011  

I was talking to a Thai friend of mine recently; someone who knows that I work a lot. She also knows that I love what I do.

She said I am, “Thang kub ngaan.” This literally means “marry with work/job.”

We sometimes jokingly say that we are married to our job, but we tend to mean it in a negative way. But in Thailand, this expression is used in a loving way, the same way we would refer to being married to a spouse. When they say you are married to your work, they mean that you are in love with what you do.

Why don’t we have an expression like that here? Maybe because it is culturally not acceptable to love what you do. If you are enjoying your work too much, you are probably not working hard enough. Or perhaps it is viewed as unattainable. We have succumbed to the fact that work is just that, and play is what we get to do on the weekends.

Western expressions here are more akin to diseases. For example, a “workaholic” is someone who works long hours to satisfy a deep-seeded need to prove oneself or become wealthy and successful.

Even the word “work” is defined as to “exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity.”

With that as the definition, who would want to be married to their work? But is there a way to love your job?

First, figure out what you love. It is important to note that this is very different than what you are good at. Our society places more emphasis on overall skills, than on natural skills and passion. We take strengths-based tests to determine our aptitude. But it is much more difficult for us to determine what comes naturally and what gives us energy.

Read the rest of this article on the American Express OPEN Forum site

[Tomorrow, I will post part 2 of this article here on my blog.  Part 2 will not appear on the American Express site]

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