Aside from memes and funny videos circulating on various social media platforms, we can also glean essential and life-altering truths wanting to land on fertile and teachable hearts. And among them is this:
Your company primarily treats you as an asset. So take that leave of absence from time to time because you are not as indispensable as you think you are. Someone else will take your place immediately after you die.
The thing is, most of us are so obsessed with our work that we forget to live a life outside it. We equate our identity with what we do for a living.
Perhaps the most challenging question I encountered is this: Who are you?
Our prompt answer would be our given name.
Again, who are you?
We answer with what we do for a living and where we live.
Nice try, but who are you?
Then we speak about our ambitions, what ticks our imagination, and what makes us happy, sad, angry, or anxious.
But again, who are you?
Exhaust every answer you can think of – but those do not answer the question. We just enumerate what we do and what we feel. We are still shying away from the question “who.”
If we take away everything from us – material possessions, accomplishments, titles, and degrees, can we answer the question with ease?
It’s pretty challenging, right? That’s how we, as humans, have identified ourselves with things that come secondarily with family and relationships, contentment, joy, peace, love, and other intangible but essential matters.
So the next time we encounter the line of questioning, don’t answer with what you do for a living. Answer with who you are from the inside out.
Perhaps a Ms. Universe kind of answer will do justice: “I am ________________, and I am confidently beautiful with a heart.”
Let’s go back to where we left off.
How can we ensure we are not giving away the best time of our lives for our work and not for people and things that matter? How do we get a life outside our work? I have a few suggestions.
- Set aside time for your family. Don’t feel guilty whenever you leave your work to spend time with your family and loved ones. We can earn money over time, but we can no longer take back the time and opportunities we lose to witness our loved ones grow old. Our family will remain, and our jobs will not. Our bosses will not even stay for the whole duration of our wake! So prioritize your loved ones. Set aside time for them.
- Take a rest. Enjoy it! You don’t have to apologize if you take time to rest and relax occasionally. Rest is not a luxury – it is a necessity. We are not wired for continuous work. Even machines undergo periodic maintenance. There’s nothing plausible with a person working until exhaustion.
- Make a life, not just a living. The most common mistake we make is to chase after wealth we think money is everything that matters. It is essential, but it is not everything. We need to see to it that we are living not just to receive a paycheck but to enjoy life. Go back to your hobby! Play a game. Listen to the sound of nature. Enjoy the morning breeze. You are not your work.
I am not suggesting that we should not love our work. On the contrary, I firmly believe that our passion and integrity must reflect in the quality of our work. But if there’s anything I want to impart, that is to never put your identity in something that is only a portion of what’s meant for you.