Your Life is Your Work

work (noun): activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

Work-life balance. We all know what it is and we often crave a “better” balance, which usually means more “life” and less “work”. This isn’t really what we want though. To want this is to believe the false dichotomy that our life and our work are separate, but that isn’t the case. We may want a better job-life balance, but that is different.

As humans, our life IS our work, and it should be treated as such. Our time away from work is often wasted away on numbing ourselves in comfort instead of struggling to be the best human we can be. We avoid struggle, suffering, and pain in our non-job time as if our purpose is to spend as much time in a near-sleep state as possible. We give very little intentional thought to what our purpose is and how we can achieve it.

I read all kinds of self-help books. In reality, they shouldn’t be called “self-help”, they should be called “here is what one person thinks worked for him with the benefit of hindsight and the human capability to filter out a bunch of stuff”, but I digress. I read a lot of these books and in my experience, each one tends to be about 10% applicable to my life. So, I pick and choose what works for me and put the book on the shelf for future reference when my life inevitably changes.

One thing that I’ve noticed from these books, as well as a number of business/entrepreneur/”get rich this way” books is that the lessons that are often focused on how we make money can be and should be applied to our life’s purpose. These books are usually big on sitting down and explicitly writing out a vision, plan, and purpose. But how often do we do that for the most important task, living? In my experience, rarely.

What is your vision for your life? I don’t know mine but today I am working on it.

What are your core values? For me it is peace, pleasure, and love, but why are these the case for me? I’m not sure but I want to find out because maybe these values suck

How do you measure success or know you are on the right path? Lower body-fat percentage, more orgasms, friends who call me during their times of need, new experiences… but I am still unsatisfied with this list.

What process do you use to make decisions? Trial and error, but I don’t record the problems I face or the solutions, so I end up running around in circles. I consult experts and trusted allies.

How long did you meditate, ponder, research, these questions before articulating them? Not long enough.

Did you write them down and post them somewhere where you can see them? Is your vision of the good life, your purpose for living displayed somewhere prominently so that you can be inspired when the days get tough? Mine isn’t.

We spend so much time figuring out how to make money or numb the feelings of life. Our time away from our jobs is supposed to be easy, leisurely, without discomfort, but that is the exact time when we should be suffering more because we will be suffering for something of our own choosing.

We should suffer the most from our true work, our lives. And we should spend at least as much time plotting, planning, examining, reflecting, and articulating our purpose in life as we do with our money making or fat burning schemes. How easy it is to plan a workout schedule but how much more valuable it would be to plan out a schedule of philosophical, spiritual, community, and true personal growth (for we are more than our muscles and skin).

Self-examination serves more than a philosophical purpose, it is practical and increasingly necessary in today’s economy. We are moving towards a day when each person is their own brand. We will all become freelancers, the days of working for one place or one career for 40 years is pretty much gone, but our schooling system still pretends things haven’t changed.

Self-reflection, finding vision, articulating purpose all require practice, they are mental muscles that need to be worked in order to be effective, and we will all need them to be effective. A life of just following orders or relying on standardized measures to determine success may be what our schooling thinks the future will be like but it won’t be. In order to succeed in the coming years we need to be well-practiced at deeper thinking.

And what better place to start practicing than struggling for our purpose in life?

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”