How many times have you come across people who say to you, “I am (insert occupation here).” These people and they’re all over the place, define themselves based on what they do. I understand where they’re coming from because, for the longest time, in the Western world at least, we are what we do.
In fact, a lot of philosophers would take things to the next level and say, “To do is to be.” In other words, to work is to have meaning. I understand that. I get that perfectly. But there is such a thing as balance. If you think that your work gives you meaning, that’s all well and good. But you have to know the bright lines that exist between your personal life, your work life, and every other life that you live.
Believe it or not, people have many different lives. There is your relationship with life. This involves your interaction with your loved ones. There’s your personal life. This involves how much time you put into exercise, taking good care of yourself, and managing your health. There’s also your financial life. You probably don’t need me to remind you of what goes on there. And so on and so forth.
We have many different lives. But the problem is, when we allow work to define us, it’s as if it is the only life we live. Pretty soon, unless you are aware of it and you take action on it, it impacts what you think, what you say and what you do.
Let me tell you, I know this is probably going to be depressing, but imagine seeing somebody in a funeral home, lying there in their coffin during a public viewing. Imagine that person, somehow, someway, was able to speak to people in the viewing.
I know this is kind of horrific and scary but bear with me. Do you think that person would sit up and say to the people, “Yeah, I wish I had more time for work? I wish I took my work more seriously.” Of course, not.
Do you know what that person would probably say? He or she would probably say, “I wish I watched more sunsets. I wish I said I love you more often. I wish I stood up for my fears more often. “Unfortunately, we often wait until the final hour or the final second to get a clue as to what truly matters in our lives. This really is quite sad.
And unfortunately, when we allow work to basically creep into all the other lives that we lead, as well as all other areas of our life, it becomes some sort of cancer. You know how cancer works, right? It turns other cells into itself. Cells no longer are differentiated, and they live permanently. Their job is to just spread, and they never die.
And this is the most appropriate analogy to work because regardless of how many hours you put into it, regardless of how much focus, sacrifice, and willpower you aim at it, there will never be enough. It will just want more and more and more.
And at the end of the day, what exactly do you have? Money? Well, money rots in value. Just look up inflation. Power? Well, you’re here today and gone tomorrow. Fame? Don’t even get me started on fame. Focus on the things that matter. Keep things in perspective. Sadly, once you develop this cancerous mental attitude towards work, it’s really hard to stop. It’s like trying to push back against a runaway train.
The Good News
Thankfully, there is a built-in “fail-safe” mechanism locked in the minds of every single human being. This mechanism is 100% natural. You don’t have to take any drugs, you don’t have to ingest any chemicals.
It is also 100% under your control. It is not hypnosis. You are not joining some sort of cult. Nobody’s going to tell you what to do with your life. Instead, it’s the biggest thing that you can do for yourself if you want peace of mind because your work has taken over your life.