Redefining Work

Work is often defined as physical or mental labor required to produce a result. The famous saying, “Work to live, not live to work,” indicates work is required to generate resources, such as money, so you can survive and potentially live as you wish. In this saying, work is not seen as a passion, but as a necessity.

Work has always been a priority for me. As a young child, it was valued and I was rewarded for working, so I developed the belief my value was tied to working. Unfortunately, that belief led to many years in unsatisfying jobs, took a toll on my health, and affected my personal relationships. Even though I have let go of the belief, I still have a tendency to be a workaholic. My approach to business can be relentless. It is one of the habits I’m working to break as I develop my next venture, which is based on what I’m passionate about not just what I’m trained in. Although I tell myself it has to be developed more intuitively with fewer linear methods, the engineer and leader in me wants to dominate the intuitive artist.

This week I slipped up again. I caught myself working on a new idea not only during my dedicated work time, but when I was cooking, gardening, dreaming, exercising, bathing, and pretending to relax. It became the subject of my every meditation. I was so deep in it, my body began to show the signs. I pulled a muscle in my back, and then my shoulders joined the act. My massage therapist scowled at me, but kindly told me I had to let whatever it was I was holding onto so tight go. I spent the next day and a half examining what could be causing such a negative reaction from my body. It should have been obvious, but I’m well-trained to let work dominate my life. So, in my meditation today, I focussed on letting the structure, worry, doubt, obsessiveness, and fear go. I need the intuitive artist to let things unfold and the engineer and leader take a rest. In my meditation, I was given an interesting mantra:

Let work come in a way that fits into my life, not be my life.

Work that fits into my life makes it an integral part, not a means to survival. It allows for work to be my passion. Not be my life reminds me to not return to my longterm, workaholic pattern. Defining work on these terms gives me permission to creatively build on my passion without it dominating every corner of my life.

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