Judaism teaches that we should love what we do, as the Mishna says, “Love work” (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:10). Abarbanel, the medieval commentator who served as treasurer to the King and Queen of Spain at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, explains that the word “love” suggests that we should approach our lives with immense joy and satisfaction.
What is Judaism’s formula for loving what you do? Here are three keys:
1. Alignment with your core values
The Talmud (Berachot 43B) teaches that God instills each person with a natural attraction to the trade he is designated to work in. We must evaluate our identity, personality, beliefs and core values, then pursue occupations and interests that are aligned with who we are.
What are you most passionate about? We all have values but which ones resonate most with you? Do you accentuate ambition, contentment, efficiency or creativity?
2. Alignment with your core skills
The classical work, Duties of the Heart (Gate of Trust, Chapter 3) teaches that each person is created with the skills, characteristics and nature designed for the occupation he will work in. Being involved in activities that utilize these skills in conjunction with our personality will imbue us with energy needed for sustainable success, professionally as well as personally. Every occupation requires a range of tasks and competencies. This key teaches that your job should revolve around those tasks in which you excel and bring vitality.
What are you best at doing? Is it analyzing information, interacting with people, or physical activity which is more hands on? Which types of activities energize you? Are you charged after interacting with people or need some alone time to recharge your batteries?
3. Alignment with your core expression
Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya (Avot of Rabbi Natan, Chapter 21B) praises work because a worker takes pride in his profession. This is not teaching that one’s self esteem should come from one’s job but rather that one’s job is meant to serve as a receptacle for his self-expression in the world.
What light do you bring to the world and how does your presence affect the people around you? Is your job in line with your unique way to improve your surroundings and the people you interact with?
Some people mistakenly make their career their life mission. Judaism teaches that one’s job is not their life mission but it is meant to serve as a means to express one’s life mission. The most important element to succeeding in any endeavor is to develop a value system and lead a life of principles and conviction.