Let us dive into the definition of “work”.

In searching the *Oxford dictionary for a definition, I was provided with over 15 definitions of the word “work” and only one involved “making a living”.

When meeting someone for the first time and they ask, “What is your work?” – How do you respond? I conjecture that most of us answer with our “employment” or our “way to make a living”.

My Answer: I work for a non-profit leading programs for seniors.

What would happen if we expanded our understanding of “work” to encompass all the Oxford dictionary examples?

I believe we would gain a better understanding of our value and contribution to our community. We would reclaim the value of the “work” we do for benefits other than money.

“Application of mental or physical effort to a purpose” – To work.

“Literary or musical composition” – The beautiful work of art.

“Operate or function” – I think that idea will work.

“Gradually or difficulty” – They worked through the problem one step at a time.

Using these expanded definitions, one can own all the “work” they do in a new way. Yes, most of us have a “career” or “a job” we put a large amount of time into; however, the time one spends creating music, writing articles, painting, baking, cooking or other creative endeavours is valuable “work”.

The time individuals put into leading, planning, problem solving, building community, and mentoring others is valuable “work”. In fact, I am trying to avoid using the word “volunteering” and replace it with “work”. Volunteering is “work”, it just has other benefits other than “to make a living”. These benefits include relationship building, personal development, service to others and to community, increase self worth, and increase feelings of happiness.

Using these expanded understanding of the word “work”, I have expanded my answer.

My Answer: I am a community builder and mentor. I love to write. I am passionate about working with seniors and newcomers. I am on multiple boards and committees.
I am also employed with a non-profit leading programs for seniors.

This answer is richer and more vibrant. It also provides a more accurate description of who I am and what is important to me. It also creates value to all aspects of my being and not just what “job” I have.

Using these ideas how would you expand your answer, “What is your work?”

*Thompson, D. (Ed.). (1993). The Oxford Dictionary of Current English (2nd ed.). Oxford University Pr.