People often find themselves achieving empty victories, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People from every walk of life – doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business professionals, athletes, and plumbers- often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition of a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their goal blinded them to the things that mattered most and now are gone. – Stephen Covey
I think this might be the longest quote I’ve ever placed in a blog, but that’s okay. It wouldn’t have been the same if I had left any out, the entire piece is important. This aspect of we start our life with values and want to do something meaningful with our time and resources, but get so lost in the rat race we forget what direction we were headed in the first place.
Yesterday I was sitting down with my old mentor of business. We were chatting about this life problem we all face. How do we have big dreams and goals, yet find the time to sit down in a chair and read a book. He asked me what had been my biggest learning curve since I joined “the real world” and I told him it had to be this. It’s hard for me to find the time to develop myself, and then go out and work sixty hours a week. I’m very fortunate to have a position that I enjoy, however, if I spend all of my time working and not tuning up my body and mind then eventually my success will be short-lived. I don’t want to be short-lived, I want to sustain over my entire life, however long God decides to let me stay here.
I don’t want to call it a work-life balance. (I told him)
No, it isn’t. It’s much more complex than that. It’s something that never goes away. It’s something that will always be a struggle, but the longer you work, the better you can become at bettering yourself and achieving your goals.
Heath, we are called to do great work. If God put you in this place, then it’s your calling to be the best you can be at what you are doing right now. That doesn’t give you the right to say- I’m going to go read my bible instead of work today. No, if you fall to either side too strongly you will suffer. If you fall towards working too hard, your body and mind will wear down and you will be useless. On the other side, if you only focus on bettering yourself and not your goals and career then you will get nowhere, and this is useless also.
Even though I left his office without a direct answer of how to win this battle, I felt more empowered. It feels good to know you’re not the only person in the world struggling with something. I can do this.
Life is always going to be a struggle between looking up at the stars and looking down at your desk, your field, or your microphone. It’s always going to be a struggle between efficiency in your career, and constantly bettering the person you are. And yet, it’s so easy to get lost in either side of this battle.
I believe more often than not, we as human beings tend to fall toward the activity trap, the rat race, the grind. We say, we are going to work hard over the next ten years, make a ton of money, and then we can build up a pretty solid 401K. We see this happen every day, I’m sure we have all had days where we thought this was the best route to go. But, what happens when we spend those ten years so dead focused on a prize, only to realize that prize wasn’t what we wanted at all? We were busting out so many chores and activities that we forgotten our end goal.
It can happen so quickly. This is why it’s so important to focus and key in on what we want our lives to look like at the end of our days. By consistently looking up at what we want our legacies to envelop, we can always steer ourselves back onto a path that leads towards the goal we want.
Don’t get caught in the activity trap. Work your butt off, be the best. But don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, it’s good for you.