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A warm day on a beach in Hawaii

The man was easing back comfortably on his lounging chair on the sands of a beach in Hawaii. The sun was warm on his face and the scenery was pleasant -- the sky was clear and blue, the waves were crashing on the shore and there was an endless parade of attractive, young, fit tourists passing before him. What could be better? Then the alarm rang.

Rude awakening. The man wasn't in Hawaii at all -- he had been dreaming. He got up. It was totally dark outside. And cold -- 10 degrees below. The ground was covered with snow and the wind guaranteed that when he went outside, he would know in his bones that he was almost 5,000 miles from Hawaii, including many miles north. He took a hot shower and tried to forget about his dream of Hawaii. He didn't have a pineapple soufflé for breakfast, he had a hot bowl of oatmeal with raisins. The morning weather report and morning paper did nothing to allay his gloom. The paper reported that a recent survey showed that only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs and only 51 percent find their jobs interesting. Both numbers are all time lows. One worker said, "there is no sense of teamwork in most places."

The day was Monday, start of the first full work week in January. The snowbirds have all gone to warm places and left the working stiff to keep grinding at the grind stones of their jobs. And only 45 percent were satisfied with those jobs.

It was still dark as he headed to work because, after all, the shortest, darkest day of the year had been only two weeks earlier. His tires crunched in the snow as he poked his way along. The car still wasn't warm when he got to his job.

The problem? He had a job to do, a family to feed and an employer who expected effort, but the energy and enthusiasm of the holidays had slipped away. There was no resolution to replace it. Was he one of the dissatisfied 55 percent?

He found himself asking the question of where he was going to get whatever it took to move forward to do his tasks. It was time to get to work, so he decided to just go through the motions to start with.

As he ground away he thought about the comment the one worker had made about the "sense of teamwork." The man had always considered himself a team player so he pushed forward. Then he thought about what his hard working dad had told him many years before. "When you're hurt or tired or just don't feel like working, but there's a job to do, that's when character, if you have it, takes over. You do the job because you're thankful to have one and because you have a work ethic that doesn't quit."

So the man thought about the 10 percent of Americans who were unemployed, about the employed but dissatisfied, about team work, about his dad, about character and work ethic and decided to roll up his sleeves and move into high gear. Motivation would just have to come along later. What a way to start the new year on a day that began on a beach in Hawaii.