It's an epidemic going around. Like some sort of primal kingdom, it seems that the businessman who has the most noise making gadgets attached to his belt is the dominant force. It veritably screams to passers-by, “Look at me, I'm busy! (Which means I'm very important!)”.
Since when has what we do for a living defined who we are? I work at a company doing a myriad of different things, none of which define in any way the person I am when I go home. Many of you are truck drivers, does that mean you abide by all the standard American truck driver stereotypes? I don't think so, if the drivers I talk to every day are any indication.
But what happens to us when we get so out of balance that our very self-worth is determined by our position and status within our particular career path? When meeting with the boss is more important than spending time with the kids? When how your co-workers view you is more important than how you view yourself?
Life is all about priorities, especially as our society moves in its current cycle. And priorities help us establish, or maintain balance. I remember a few years ago I was working for Disney and having a very rough time at it. I had dreamed of working for Disney my entire life, but found that once I got there, I simply did not agree with Mr. Eisner's way of running things. I had a grave sense of loss, of unsured-ness, and panic. For so long I had defined my future as, “I want to work for Disney”, that I had never bothered to define who I was going to be in that future.
It was then that I learned my first priority in my life was my relationship with God. As a Christian woman, keeping in contact with my Creator helps establish solid ground, and grants me an assuredness and confidence in my every day actions. If you don't buy into that sort of thing, well I can't say I'm happy for you, but we'll move onto my second priority, or your first, which is yourself.
Don't think I buy into the selfish-society-craze that is going on. That's not what I mean when I say you should be your number one priority. You have to take care of yourself, and love yourself, but it should not be at the expense of others. That means that I do need to spend time exercising, or reading, or writing, or doing whatever makes me feel like me the most. The more I know and love myself, the more my capability to know and love others increases. By simply taking 15 minutes out of my day to read a book or reflect in prayer, I am able to care and listen to my husband with more eagerness and attentiveness.
If you can believe it, your second, third, fourth, and fifth priorities in life are all NOT work. They are your spouse, your children, your extended family, and your friends, respectively. While work may be the last priority on this list, it does not mean that it comes last in my life. There are many, many things that I have to do daily, and people I have to meet, that do not take precedence over my job. My list of priorities is exactly that, a list of things that are most important in life, ordered from 1 to 7.
By keeping my priorities in check and in order, I function better in life. By caring for my spouse on a high level, he in turn cares for me in the same manner. By placing my extended family above my friends, I foster in them the knowledge that I value their companionship, and by placing my friends over my job, I can do more with them, and grant them my full attention. But by keeping all of these things in check, I am happier, more well adjusted, and more productive while at work.
It was Thoreau who touted “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity” in his famous Walden Pond. And while he eventually discovered that he could not escape the trappings of life, that even in the wilderness he ordered things and developed habits the same as he would in the working world, he understood that simplicity was not the absence of chores, but the mere balance of them.
Happy Holidays everyone!