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Someone recently shared this tweet and mocked the ideal of working weekends. My first reaction was to do the same thing, but after thinking about it for a minute, I realized, he’s absolutely right, and in fact, the more we work, the more fulling our lives become.
Now, before you send me angry messages about promoting hustle culture, hear me out….
Why is “work” positioned as such a bad thing? Is work really all about misery and suffering? Does it only revolve around making money or taking orders from others? That’s the first reaction I had, but that’s actually a very short-sighted perspective.
Rethinking Work: More Than Just Slogging Away
When we look up the dictionary definition of work, it’ states that it’s defined as any mental or physical effort done to achieve a purpose or result. While it can certainly mean toil and hard work, it’s actually a lot more than that.
When you think about it, everything or anything worthwhile is work. Even sleeping involve some form of work, both to get to bed at a decent hour and then all the things that the body does while our body is at rest, like processing emotions, repairing muscle tissue, and cleansing the brain.
Work is Anything Where Intention Meets Effort
Work, when viewed through the lens of effort toward a purpose or result, highlights the significance of intention. Even when we’re just chilling out or having fun, there is an underlying intention or expected result. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, exercising, watching Netflix, or planning a vacation, these activities require effort and intention.
The key difference between work or “not work” is that when we’re not working, we’re still doing stuff, (even procrastination is an activity), but it doesn’t have an intention or result. It’s just wasting time. So work is really just time spent doing anything that’s in alignment with our desired outcomes.
Misalignment and Burnout
What about working too much or overworking? If everything is work, and work is so fulfilling, why do I feel so burned out? I think this happens only when there is a misalignment between our efforts and intended results. When we try too hard to make something happen, or when our intentions will never lead to the result we’re looking to gain, then it will quickly spiral into frustration.
Ask anyone who has tried to make a relationship work when their partner didn’t have the same intention for the relationship. You can do everything to make a specific result happen, but it never will. Because your intentions are not aligned.
Or maybe you’re a workaholic who can’t stop focusing all their energy towards their job? This becomes pathological when your actions (no matter how hard your try), will never garner the response you’re looking for (ie, to feel worthy or happy).
However, when our work is aligned with our goals, whether in our careers, relationships, or personal aspirations, we can absolutely find fulfillment and success.
The key thing to remember is that work doesn’t always mean working hard (or even paid work); it means working intentionally, and ideally, using your strengths along the way. This might mean working with curiosity, mindfulness, or even humor.
Embracing a 24/7 Work Mindset = Living with Intention
Approaching work with a 24/7 mindset doesn’t mean constantly hustling and exhausting ourselves. It means making deliberate choices about how we spend our time and energy, with intention. Whether it’s earning more money, improving our health, nurturing relationships, or finding inner peace, every choice we make determines our work towards those goals. There are countless paths to achieve our desired outcomes, some requiring hard work while others may be more effortless. The common thread is the intention and effort we put into them.
Challenges for ADHD Individuals: Attention and Working Memory
As someone with ADHD, I understand the challenges with trying to live intentionally. To be intentional, requires attention, and attention is not something we have complete control over from moment to moment. Also, relying on our working memory to remember what we’re being intentional about (and why) is probably not going to work well. However, there are strategies we can employ to support our goals and make the effort easier.
Setting Up Supportive Environments and Routines
To make living with intention more feasible (ie – not relying on working memory), we can set up our environments and routines to support our goals. By removing obstacles and adding friction to behaviors we want to avoid, we can create an environment that encourages and facilitates our intentional work. This includes identifying what is worth our time, effort, and attention and being ruthless with distractions.
Clarifying Goals: What Matters Most to You?
Before adopting a 24/7 mindset, it’s essential to get clear on what you want to work towards. What is most important to you? Is it your health, relationships, finances, or home? Defining important goals allows us to prioritize and align our efforts accordingly. Remember, your work is defined by you and no one else.
Creating a Fulfilling and Purposeful Life
Working with intention and aligning our efforts with our desired results is the key to creating a fulfilling and purposeful life. But it requires reframing our understanding of work and recognizing that everything we do is a form of work. We have the power to choose how we approach it. By choosing the kind of work that aligns with our goals, we can lead meaningful lives.