This post may be better titled the weight of responsibility. However, this particular experience is associated with the return to work after two weeks of vacation with family and thus inexorably tied to the emotional weight of work itself. I just don’t think of my responsibilities at home with the kids, wife and house as weighty. I don’t feel the weight of responsibility of my family obligations as I consciously choose to invest my time and energy into those relationships and see a relatively immediate return. With work, I consciously choose to invest time and energy for the financial return. The politics and crazy approaches to management I see at my current job just aren’t something I easily connect with and thus don’t get any real spiritual or emotional return. I do receive a return on my investment from helping those in my sphere of influence. I find it especially rewarding to help someone retire, climb the ladder in their career or find opportunity in the darkness of misdirection due to disjointed leadership. I also connect with those in the same struggle against the over confidence and certainty of hubris. When I started coming up to speed on what was happening at work via the hundreds of emails while I was gone, I became emotionally burdened and made a comment to my wife. She too is finding picking up the weight of work something of a burden.
As we reflect on what’s important to us, we find work a necessary means to an end. It serves our purpose of raising a family and providing the foundation to retire with what we want out of life for our later years. When we started our current jobs over 15 years ago, we found intrinsic motivation of purpose and meaning in our work. Our goals of working in the medical or aerospace industries were served. We found ourselves fulfilling our aspirations but also investing in something beyond ourselves. Through the years, the meaning and purpose was overcome with the weight of responsibility having climbed the ladder as much as we’ve been able to. No longer directly working with the products that save lives or foster scientific knowledge and exploration of space, our meaning has waned. The meaning is still present but easily reduced to noise amongst the stress and strain of constantly fighting the daily, weekly and monthly fires over and over again. We ask ourselves, is it worth it to continue? It’s an interesting question all of us have to contemplate as we grow and change in ways our work does not. If our work environment no longer serves our purposes financially, mentally and spiritually, we simply need to make a different choice on where to invest our time and energy. Herein lies the crux of every one of our situations. Is our current investment providing a return? Is our short term suffering worth the long term gain?
We as individuals must make a decision every day on whether to return to the fire fight and struggle of connecting with what our work places have to offer. We may be pouring a gallon of water on a forest fire, but if we get the return we seek then we simply need to withstand the heat and hell fire until we’ve achieved the return we set out to gain. It’s important to know our limits of investment if we are not getting the expected return on our time and energy. Only we as individuals may decide whether to continue or cut loose and invest somewhere else. With that decision comes new risks and new potential for growth. It all comes down to a simply question. Is it worth it? Or to put in the terms of a friend of mine at work, “at what cost” are we getting the return we see and feel from our investment. Is the weight of work we feel worth our investment? At what cost are we continuing our trials and tribulations? Certainly, going somewhere else will open up new doors but those doors will have their own costs, returns, trials, tribulations and upsides.
The biz of you is built upon the foundation of knowing what you want out of life. This orientation towards the future creates the potential we need to survive our current situation or make the necessary decisions leading to its change. What we value is a critical factor in our daily decisions about work, family, life and the loves we have. We create the change we seek with each and every decision. We choose to carry the weight of work each and every day based on the value of the return on our investment of time and energy.
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