[#write31days] Day 6 Work to Live – Live to Work?

Welcome to Day 6 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

Debates about work hours. Simply too much to do in too little time. Demonstrations for more pay. Always too little holidays. When most people think of work, they associate something negative with it.
Yet, even though we often complain about our work it is actually a good invention. Work was created for a good purpose.

I am not saying we should stop working all together or work 24-7. But maybe we should think a little bit about what work actually is and what makes it so ‘dangerous’ in our lives.
When you talk to older people who have been retired for a while, you can sometimes hear, “I miss it.” I’m sure they don’t mean the long working hours, the bad pay, or the rude boss. They miss the sense of getting up in the morning, having a destination to go to. The feeling of being needed somewhere. The satisfaction that comes from a day’ work with obvious results.
People who don’t do anything anymore are not at peace or completely rested. They feel lost. Without a purpose. At the verge of losing themselves.

What we do is a big part of who we are. We express our identity and personality through our movement, our emotions, our hands’ work.
But what we do should not define who we are. Otherwise you’ll lose yourself as soon as you stop doing what you’re doing.

In a world that revolves around busy schedules, timetables, meetings, and revenues, work seems to be the greatest virtue. A good worker is an eager, productive, and always-available worker.
How about that co-worker asking you for help on a project? You certainly can’t turn him down because you like your job and you don’t to disappoint your co-worker.
How about your boss asking you to stay longer because you’re simply the best for the job? Of course you’ll do it. Come on, it’s your boss and you can’t refuse. Being the best at something is quite the reputation you don’t want to risk losing. And trust me, it does feel good to be the go-to person, to see your name on pamphlets and invitations, to hear others talk about you with that certain ‘awe’.
We work because we want to please others. We don’t stop working because our reputation, our identity, our self is on the line. Our work is who we are. 

In a world of linked devices, cloud accounts, and constant connection it’s almost impossible to escape work. You might leave the office, but you don’t leave work. There’s always something you can do from home, always an email you can answer from your smartphone on your way to something else. Work consumes our time, our thoughts, our hearts.
Yes, the thought of rest, the wish to just walk away from it all comes up once in a while, but is brushed away by fear of losing touch.

Articles on characteristics of Generation Y mention that while people are always on the move and have more choices than ever before, they are mostly driven by fear. Fear of losing, of missing out. The Guardian even called it an addiction: FOMA (fear of missing out). Whether it’s people’s attention and love, whether it’s better pay or a conference, or just a brilliant opportunity – we are driven by fear and insecurity. We don’t rest in who we are but try to compensate this void with work. Instead of finding ourselves we allow others to define who we are and what we’re supposed to do.

We can go on like this for a while without seeing any problems, we can work like crazy and chase our dreams. But the increasing numbers of burned-out workers, emotional breakdowns and people with no resilience indicate that this is not the life we’re supposed to live forever. If we don’t establish healthy boundaries when we’re young we won’t reap any fruits when we’re old.

Think about your work: How many hours per day are you busy for your job? How are the relationships to your boss and co-workers?
How often do you take off from work – switch off computer, phone etc.? 

Author: Katha von Dessien

Teacher. Believer in the Wilderness. Third Culture Kid. World Traveler. People and Food at the Table Lover. Writer.

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