One of the things I promised myself was to publish this article by the end of the week. Due to how things played out, I didn’t have time to proofread it properly, but I’m sticking to my promise.
For a long time I’ve been using my work as a way to ground myself in reality. To give structure to my days and weeks, help me get up early and get moving. Opening the doors to the shop in many ways meant to me the first step in starting my days. The first hour was a moment to review thoughts, jot things down and prepare for the rest of the day. As I dialled the coffee in and got it to taste just right, I was also dialling myself in. Leaving the shop, I could keep this productivity up, do sports, cook something, read, write, etc…
But on free days, when I didn’t dial coffee in and centered myself on getting up, I tended to feel lost, like I was moving without direction.
Mind you, things only ever got to this point because I absolutely love my work. I’m passionate about what I do day in and day out, sometimes even to my detriment.
More so than loving my work, I love work. Even when doing things I was less passionate about (teaching English back in Brazil or entertaining kids last summer), I would always be at the place I needed to be with more than enough time to spare, organize everything and in general, run the rest of my life around working. It’s not the financial reward that gets me going, but the act of being out there and moving things.
To me, work is energizing. Most of the time I will leave my shift with much more energy than I had when it started. After a weekend event of volunteering, I felt tired after so much running around and debriefing participants, but my Mondays were always kickass. I always got up knowing I had done something and this momentum just kept growing and getting bigger.
It was fair to say back then and it still holds true now: the only reason I don’t work more is because I can’t.1
I didn’t see the problem until recently. Perhaps because I like work so much, I didn’t think it was a problem at all.
Well, it becomes a problem. Something about putting all your eggs into one basket. Only instead of eggs this is my life, and instead of a basket it’s a 100sqm shop.
There isn’t anything wrong with pouring heart and soul into work (indeed, there’s something very right about it). But it shouldn’t be the only thing we should be pouring heart and soul into. If we’re out of heart and soul for our hobbies, education and relationships, we’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.
This article is as much a cautionary tale as it’s a reminder for myself. A reminder, not only to not let it happen again, but also to start taking steps in another direction. I have projects in the works, and while I’ll still be working with as much joy and drive as I’ve always done, my after work hours should look different from now on.
Ryan Holiday finishes his reading list emails with a pledge I should start taking to heart.
“Treat your education like the job that it is.”
If I need the term “work” to give things the dedication they deserve, it’s time to turn everything else in my life into my work.