Tag Archives: complacency

“You’re No Less Alive on a Tuesday Than You Are On a Friday”

4 Nov

Since moving to the new neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fiance and I discovered a new cozy, European-rustic wine bar that makes me feel like I’m hanging out leisurely somewhere in Southern France. Yesterday, I was sharing my own interpretation of work-life balance over a couple glasses of Malbec at our new Provencal escape.  Which is ironic, given that the point of my work-life diatribe was around doing something you love, or at least loving the something you do enough that you don’t constantly feel the need escape the daily grind in the first place.  And ideally, you avoid using terms like “the daily grind”.

Photo by Zen on Flickr

“Live to work, or work to live,” he asked.  “Which one do you think is better?”  And my gut reaction said ‘work to live’, because isn’t that why most people go to work, to afford themselves the lifestyle they want, and live it?  And then I realized that most people go to work because they basically have to.  Some people don’t have to work, and they still do.  Regardless, the objective of a person who ‘works to live’ isn’t necessarily the same as someone else who would categorize themselves that way.  I might work to live, and by live I mean scrape by and pay the bills, versus live a certain quality of leisurely lifestyle.  The same holds true for the  ‘live to work’.

That’s when things got confusing.  When the choices are either “one of the other” it doesn’t leave you much room for compromise.  Perhaps we don’t work to live or vice versa, we just work AND live, and the goal for most of us is for both of those actions to be beautifully in sync and complimentary to one another.  And if they’re compliments, then neither one specifically drives the other, or serves as the means to the other end.  You just do them both, and you do them well, hopefully with a smile on your face because you have integrity around what you do each day.

He started telling me a story about a toll collector in California who had been collecting tolls for decades, and had some bigger dream of doing something else that he had continually shelved in return for making a more immediate living for his family. He was one of those people you really wonder what internal switch they have that everyone else lacks.  And they flip it on each day, and suddenly their outlook on life is 100 times more positive than everyone else’s.

I’ve never collected tolls myself, but one might assume it’s not the most exciting of occupations.  And this fellow probably understood that logically. But our emotions often come from a place separate from logic, and in turn those emotions influence our perspective and opinions based on feelings, rather than factual thought.  Like so few people, this man approached each day of his job, which was probably far more identical to ones preceeding and following it than most could tolerate, with a smile on his face and integrity around what he did.  So much so, that every one of the thousands and thousands of cars that drove through his booth were greeted with the same grin as he joked, “Big spender today, eh?”  And that type of welcomingly   unexpected cheer and humor in such an unlikely place became contagious, and sent driver after driver away down the highway with a chuckle and a smile.  So it makes you wonder what was really in a day’s work for him – just collecting tolls, or a contribution on a bigger, more human level?

“My ideal version of work-life balance is where what you do for a living is fulfilling and satisfying to such a point that you feel no less excited on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” I said.  Because let’s face it, most people rush their way through the 40+ hour work week in anticipation of the weekend, their time away from the place where they spend nearly 40% of their waking hours!  They rush through slightly less than half of their life, just tolerating everything.  Somebody please tell me how we’re expected to move ourselves forward toward our ultimate goals when our main source of fuel is tolerance.  It won’t happen.

“You’re no less alive on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” he said. And something about that simple statement glowed like a fluorescent light bulb.  Because he’s absolutely right. The universe has no concept of whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday, a weekday or the weekend, only what we do with that information in terms of our actions.  The Beatles gave their first ever live performance in America on a Tuesday, on February 11, 1964.  It was a Tuesday on April 15, 1947 when Jackie Robinson made history with his major league baseball debut for the Dodgers.   And on a Thursday night November 9, in 1989 was the fall of the Berlin wall.  Most of Berlin probably stayed home though because they had work the next day.  That, and who the hell are the Beatles, anyway? [I kid.]

Great things happen in the world and in our own lives, no matter what day of the week it is.  And when we expend our mental and emotional energy wishing away so much of that time, what is that saying about the way we’re conducting our lives, and our work, each and every week?  Are we happy with our contributions?  Are we fulfilled by what we’re doing?  Are we wasting our days week after week going through the same old motions of doing something that holds minimal purpose and brings little if any positivity to us and to the rest of society?

It’s inevitable that there will be points in your life where you don’t have your dream job and maybe don’t love, or even like, what you do.  But are you at least doing something that is moving you closer to that greener pasture, whether it’s gaining experience, making contacts, saving money or simply learning about yourself?  Maybe it’s not WHAT we do each day that matters as much as how we do it and why.  And when you think about it that way, it leaves a lot of room for improvement.

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The Myth of Stability, The Wrath of Complacency (And the Token 9/11 Reference)

13 Sep

A friend of mine is in job transition right now, and she’s freaking out.  10 million other people are as well.  So this is nothing new.  And much like the swapping of seasons, career transition and change is always happening somewhere, to someone, yet we react with the same disbelief that “Here it is!” But seriously…is it really almost Fall?

The fact that everyone goes through career or life transition, some of us multiple times in our lifetimes, doesn’t diminish the impact we each feel emotionally, physiologically, financially and otherwise when it happens to us.  Quite heavy is the realization that we want to make a significant change to something we’ve become comfortably adjusted to.  For those of us already employed, it’s worse. Because not only do we find ourselves contemplating how to navigate the roadmap of “what’s next”, but then we also have to shake off the complacency of already having a source of income, and finding the motivation to abandon that and welcome the several weeks (or months) of hard work in job searching that we’re likely to endure.  Even in cases where you despise your current occupation, job or employer, admit it – some fear or limiting belief has kept you there this long, whether it’s the “stability of a paycheck” or “having work friends”, or even just being mildly satisfied in having a routine every day.  But here is the truth:  STABILITY is a myth, and COMPLACENCY is dangerous.

Stability.  What is that? In an economic downshift such as the one we’ve been experiencing in the last 18-24 months, many folks are realizing that the stability they thought existed for them, was completely a myth.  “Stable jobs” were yanked out from under our friends, colleagues and loved ones like rugs, and the unsuspecting, UNPREPARED victims (I don’t like that word) were left with their hands out to their sides wondering, “Oh my god…what do I do now?”  And often times for many, job loss can be a God-send, an opportunity to reinvent themselves – a push off the cliff that they couldn’t force themselves to take on their own.  For others, even if they knew they wanted a change eventually, they were unprepared to make it in such an abrupt fashion.  It happened to them, and it can happen to you.  And I say that not to worry you, but to instead solidly prepare you, by opening you up to a wonderful idea, that the falsity of stability that has been keeping you where you are when you desperately don’t want to be there… no longer has to have that control over you.

Abandon that.  Let it go.

To truly be free, you have to make the distinction that stability isn’t necessarily linked to your paycheck, your job or your relationship, but rather it is linked to not having to depend on someone else for your well-being.  It means not having to worry that you will lose something by means that are out of your control.  For some, that means working for themselves, and for others, not being in a job where the fear of losing it or the lack of integrity makes them feel stuck, or to question their value.  No matter where you are, whether you were pushed off the cliff, you’re standing on it or you’re running open-armed toward it, if you rise above complacency, and detach from that belief that stability is at the hands of your employer/spouse/etc., you no longer risk being the victim of change, because you have become the CREATOR OF CHANGE.

And the only thing more limiting than perceived stability is its evil brain-child, Complacency.  Born from an unholy union of False Stability and Fear, Complacency continues in the family business of ruining the careers and lives of otherwise motivated, talented and passionate individuals.  We cling to perceived stability in an unhappy career for the same reasons we cling to perceived stability in an unhappy relationship or marriage – fear of being alone (or jobless) and fear that we won’t have the strength to pick ourselves up in the face of loss and move on to something better.  That fear drives us to rely on and cling to what we already have, because it’s easy, and we fool ourselves into thinking that so long as it is there, we are protected.  That idea right there is complacency- our inability to move ourselves forward toward our own goals, despite any willingness and desire we may have to change, because of the circumstances we allow to control us.  So we cling, for dear life.  But how good is that life?  What’s the worst that can happen if you loosen the grip and quit feeling the need to hold onto what you don’t really want anyway?

Yes, you can “do it tomorrow.”  You can set it as a goal for the New Year.  You can do it whenever and however you like… but you haven’t yet.  Why not?

Friday was September 11, a day in American history continually reminding us all of our own falsely perceived invincibility and which echoes the sentiment that life is indeed short.  Despite multiple subsequent threats over the years, as of today 3,289 days have passed without harm being inflicted upon New York City. As my fiancé likes to say, “It’s all the NYPD, not the government faltering those attempts…” And then he argues how New York should get pretty much all the domestic security funding, which he may be right, but that’s beside the point.  Had the NYPD (or government) relied on that faulty logic, the fact that, “3285 days have gone by without any danger, so what’s a few days off?” there’s no guarantee that life would go on uninterrupted in America’s brilliant metropolis of the East.  After all, one thing we’ve learned as Americans is that we’re not infallible, we’re not exempt from the tragedies and obstacles of life.  And the truly lucky ones are beginning to accept that.  So you have to think… even New York City does not falsely perceive its own stability, nor does it choose complacency.  And it never will… so why should YOU?

So allow me to repeat the idea above, as it’s probably the key take-away from all of this.   When you rise above complacency, and detach from that belief that stability is at the hands of your employer/spouse/etc., you no longer risk being the victim of change, because you have become the CREATOR OF CHANGE.  No-thing or person has control over you and your outcome unless you allow them that power.  That is the power of conscious choice, and that, my friends… is a story for another time.

Cheers, New York City!  To another fruitful year of disgruntled urbanites living, thriving and taking for granted the liberty and security that was never just a coincidence.   I guess in fairness, no one ever said being human was easy.

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