Our children watch us closely (sometimes too closely) and they often emulate. A great thing we can do for our children is to show them what a happy and fulfilled life looks like. One of the largest aspects of our life is our work.
In the old television sitcoms, we see kids playing house. One enters the room, pretending to be the parent coming home from work. The kid throws himself into a chair, moaning about how tired they are. Cue the laughter. The message is clear. Work is drudgery, and our kids know it. It’s no wonder they don’t look forward to becoming a grown-up.
When we feel this passion for our work, it shows. We’re passionate about new projects. We enjoy sharing about our day.
Although we chuckle at the above scene, it’s is no laughing matter. Our children see us exactly as we are, and probably better than we do ourselves.
There are two different types of jobs in the world. First is the paycheck job—the one we start while in school. Paycheck jobs aren’t typically a whole lot of fun, but they serve a purpose. They put money in your hand so you can live your life. While most people take a paycheck job planning on it only being a temporary thing, many end up being stuck in one for years—sometimes their entire working career. It’s tough to turn down a steady paycheck, even if we dislike the job we have to do to earn it.
The second type is a career job. Career jobs are fulfilling and meaningful. This is the job which you love and that you can’t wait to get to on Monday morning. In a career job, you feel satisfied knowing you are contributing, even if you’re not earning as much as you would in the paycheck job.
When we feel this passion for our work, it shows. We’re passionate about new projects. We enjoy sharing about our day. There’s no dropping into a chair and whining about the idiots we work with. Our kids see and learn from this whether we drag our feet heading out the door in the morning or talk about our fascinating work projects at the dinner table.
Which scenario would you rather your kids saw?
As an entrepreneur, you probably started your business because you were passionate about it. You had talents that would benefit others. You wanted to make a difference. But too often, the passion starts to fade, and your business becomes a chore—one that you feel stuck in because it’s bringing in money that supports your family.
Aaron Hurst, the author of The Purpose Economy, says, “If you complain about work and talk about it as a form of evil, that can have long- term implications. We all have bad days, but remember that you are creating a narrative about the role of work. Consciously decide what narrative you want to share.”
In a study put out by MIT, children were asked to complete a task with the same enthusiasm as their parents. Those whose parents stayed enthusiastic and focused even when the job was complicated and challenging, resisted the urge to give up when they didn’t make instant progress. Children without this kind of modeling tended to struggle and eventually give up, just as their parents did.
Likewise, when children see parents who work hard, enjoy their work, and look forward to the chance to go back out into the workplace, even when it’s hard, they will grow up to be adults who embrace this type of job satisfaction.
In a study done by Kathy McGinn from Harvard Business School, it was found that children of mothers who worked were more likely to work themselves. In fact, it was discovered that the attitudes of those mothers toward work generally were mirrored in their children as they grew up and entered the workforce.
When you demonstrate passionate about what you do, your children will expect to experience fulfilling work when they grow into adulthood. They will be less likely to stay in paycheck jobs because they realize work is meant to be rewarding.
So, how do you ensure your children grow up expecting to work in a field that provides them with meaning?
Talk About Your Work
Letting your child hear your enthusiasm is crucial. Of course, what you say needs to be age-appropriate, but don’t shy away from sharing what you love and why.
Engage in Learning Where They Can See
Read books. Take classes. Show your child how following a dream takes work, but pays out huge dividends.
Here’s where you need to get real. Talk to your child about why you chose this field and what excites you about it. Let them see your dream and share in it. Likewise, let them also know where you get frustrated, so they grow up knowing the things they love won’t always come easy.
Overall, the main idea here is pretty simple: if you love your work, your kids are going to see it. Do this, and someday your kids will love their work too.
If you no longer love your business or job but don’t know what to do about it, let me help! Schedule a free strategy session here to find a path to loving what you do.