We Are Our Work


Why is our work so important to us?

We are fixated on work. The challenges and anxieties we face at work disrupt the rest of our lives. Work affects our relationships, how we sleep, the way we see ourselves. When we are introduced to someone for the first time, work is often one of the first things we talk about with them.

Our work influences our entire lives. As children, people ask us what work we want to do when we are older. We spend years in school deciding what work we want to do and preparing to do it. We plan our careers, considering whether we want to change jobs and what work we find most fulfilling. We look for our dream job. We often do not take even the time away from work we have coming to us. Even as we count the years to retirement, we wonder who we will be when our work no longer defines us.

We forget how work absorbs us. We are immersed in work, and in a society that worships work. Hard work is part of our cultural DNA. We believe that hard work is what makes the American Dream possible. We believe in the value and the virtue of our own hard work. We believe we are earning the rewards we receive.

Even when we are not at work, we think about our work. We squeeze work into every spare moment, every opportunity. Work is the air we breathe, the ocean in which we swim.

We do not take time to rest. We do not take time to reflect. We do not take time to listen. We are working ourselves to death.

We see ourselves defined by our work, when can be so much more.

How does your work absorb your life?

When do you take time to rest and to reflect?

[Image by @Saigon]

"Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world......a city on a hill cannot be ..."

Practices From the Inside Out: Head ..."
"Leadership is a paradox! For me, standing still feels good at first but then feels ..."

Leading Like a Monk: Holding Fast ..."
"Re gratitude.My goodness, I don't think you have to be grateful for everything, all the ..."

Practices From the Inside Out: What ..."
"This unique group of individuals have a discipline that is second to none. They don't ..."

Leading Like a Monk: Building Communities ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://NA Winlowe

    I agree with this post if you live and work in the U.S. and have never been exposed to anything else. I had the fortune to live in Europe for 7 years and it forever changed the way I look at life and work. Work and your life are separate – end of story. Whether you work long hours (and it happens everywhere in the world) love yourself, friends and family enough to leave work at the door when you leave. Enjoy your life now and be present. No job can ever take the place of living YOUR LIFE. And, no person or project is so important that this become the only conversation you are able to have with other people. Practice makes perfect. So, start now and realize WORK is WORK and WORK is NOT WHO YOU ARE!

  • Strategic Monk

    Thank you, Winlowe.

    Yes, as I wrote, I think that American culture and influence have had a lot to do with people who experience work in this way. I do not believe, though, that experience stops at the borders of the United States.

    Yes, as we practice new ways of appreciating our work we recognize that there is more to our lives.

  • http://www.eyecandy.mx Juan Carlos Limas

    We get seduced by the enticing promise of a better life, so much so, that we forget to live the life we already have. Sans-work.

    I’m guilty as charged, but as Winlowe comments, I have managed bit by bit to leave work at the door. And I have gained ground and recovered most of my weekends and nights.

    Good read!

    • Strategic Monk

      Thank you, Juan Carlos.

      Yes, we become focused on a definition of “better life” that excludes so many things that have the potential to make life better.

      Keep going!