without your work, who would you be?
much of our lives are consumed by what we do. we work so we can earn a wage to buy us freedom to live. but is that all there is to life? are we really just working to live? at what point do we become more than the jobs we do?
humans are complex creatures. we are more than what we do. but so much of our identity, so much of our thinking becomes consumed by the jobs we work. who are you when you’re not at work? who are you when you’re not thinking about work?
there are 168 hours in a week. let’s say the average human works a full-time job of 38 hours and is fortunate to get 8 hours of sleep a night – that leaves 74 hours where you’re not at work and not sleeping. who are you in those moments? what are you choosing to think about? the majority of us spend more time not at work than we do at work yet work consumes the majority of our thinking and mental capacity. why?
there’s a multitude of reasons as to why. but from my own experiences, i’ve found that work consumes the majority of my thinking for two reasons: i don’t have anything else to think about or i’m taking on more responsibility than is needed.
this is where a need for balance is essential. a need for an identity outside of what you do. a need for purpose in the 74 hours you’re not working. and maybe that purpose is to simply love someone else or to love your family. or maybe it’s a hobby, an interest, a vocation.
as for responsibility, i frequently have to check myself: will the business collapse if i don’t reply to this email? if i don’t do x y or z? and the answer is always a resounding no. because the reality is, much of what we think is important with regards to work, can wait. if you don’t do it, someone else will. a business that falls apart from an individual not working at home, is a business that was bound to fail anyway.
this is both a humbling and liberating reality. humbling because what you offer a business will invariably be replaced and liberating because it means you’re free. free to think about life outside of work. free to focus on what else is important in your life. free to just be more than what you do.
so who are you when you’re not at work?
*i acknowledge that this post is intended for individuals working in low-crisis, regular full-time hour positions and is not applicable to all jobs and occupations