We all want a happy life. That is the reason why we are trying to be the best at what we do, great parents, great friends, great spouses, etc. We want to excel in everything. We want to realize ourselves through everything that we do. Particularly through our career. And yet, if you look around, you see so many successful people, who seem to be at the very top, but who emanate stress and dissatisfaction, even though they will say that they are happy, most of the time. The pressure to have a career, to be on top seems to be corrupting our inner selves.
Professional success is great, but, it is also highly overrated. Focusing too much on your career goals can be toxic. I’m sure everybody with an access to Internet has read the very viral post The 5 Things People Regret Most On Their Deathbed, and two of those regrets are directly related to focusing too much on work: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” and “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Because being successful and professionally achieved is expected of us, from a very early age.
Being at the middle of my life, I find myself in need of answers, in need of better understanding of happiness. Everywhere I looked, I found that happiness was very strongly connected to balance. And balance requires focus on several things at the same time, both internal and external ones. But balance is difficult. Balance is painful. Balance requires setting boundaries and honoring them. Balance requires working on parts of ourselves and our lives that we maybe find hard to improve, change or even embrace.
Now, there is never going to be a blog post that will enable you to live a happy life. And this one definitely does not even attempt to do so. But I do hope that, if you are striving for happiness and balance, you stop and remember this about your work life:
-You are not your job. If all you can say about you is what you do for a living when somebody asks you to introduce yourself, what will happen when you retire? Will you become nothing? Think about this.
-Your job is your passion – and this is great. But happy life is not all just work. Where is the play? And I am not saying that people can’t have fun at work. However, don’t forget that purposeless play has a very important role in our lives.
-We are complex and multi-layered – don’t limit yourself to only working on that one layer – your career. Dare to dig deeper and live the life that the real you wants, not the one that was constructed through upbringing, social pressure and education.
-Work will always be work, with or without you. We are all replaceable in the work force, eventually. The company will not collapse without you. And even if it does – it’s not the end of the world. The work demands mainly come from yourself. Live a little, too.
Now, I am not telling you to be lazy, irresponsible, disinterested in your job. I am just saying that you should provide space for your whole self in your everyday life. To open the doors to your interests, connections with people, even to some quiet time in which nothing and nobody intervenes. If you want a happy life, with no regrets, don’t be your job. Be a whole person.