NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We don't generally associate work with love. The ancient Greeks had five distinct words for love, yet none describe the warm, contented attachment we feel from a job well-done.
Yet we'd be hard-pressed to name a "one percent" professional who wasn't entirely enthralled with their career. Compare the bemused but bored expression on
Mark Zuckerberg's wedding portrait
gleam in his eye when his speaks about Facebook
. And one of Warren Buffet's secret loves is spending Saturday evening pouring through a stack of 10-Ks.
Social scientists tell us that happy, engaged employees both live longer and have a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Marriage counselors report that career dissatisfaction is one of the top three sources of marital discord. However a successful career -- like a successful marriage -- is a long-term relationship with abundant ups and downs. We experience love at first sight during our interview process; we enjoy the honeymoon period of our first closed deal -- and then real life sets in.
For many of us, the Great Recession was the career equivalent of an over-large mortgage combined with a colicky newborn and a recently moved-in mother-in-law. In the new normal we're all working the equivalent of two jobs with little recognition and even less self-actualization. Love, indeed, can be cruel.
Punch line -- there's no Valentine's Day at the office; no specific time when we're prompted to reflect on the passion that we yearn to bring to our work. So it's incumbent upon us all to step back occasionally and reflect upon that first blush of romance that we felt for our careers. Business partners, like life partners, need to be managed for richer and for poorer; and in sickness and in health.
THE CAREER ICONOCLAST'S WEEKLY ACTION ITEMS:
1.) Create a list of the top ten things you love about your job -- and, yes, you can come up with a list of ten. Then, for each item, write down ways to expand this role. For example, if you enjoy interviewing job applicants, you could contact your HR department and volunteer to serve on the corporate recruitment team at your undergraduate and/or graduate universities. Doing so might not affect the size of your bonus, but it will make you feel more engaged with your employer.
2.) Compose a list of five actions that would improve your relationship with your firm. Like the dedicated husband who reduces his beer gut to please his wife, how could you make yourself more appealing at work? Does your boss arrive early, then you should too. With any luck she won't notice when you slip away at lunch to run the errand you were planning to do on your way to work.
3.) Over Valentine's Day weekend, treat your significant other -- or yourself -- to one of the three best workplace romance movies ever made: "His Girl Friday," "The Hudsucker Proxy" or "Working Girl." The love stories are charming and, better yet, the workplace portrayals are intelligent and amusing satires that will make you feel better about your personal work-life-love experience.