One of the phrases that Work / Life Balance experts love to throw around is that, on their death beds, no one ever said I wish I had spent more time at work. While I am sure this is true, I hate this phrase and the mindset it represents. To me, this is representative of people looking for an excuse to settle. Our country right now doesn’t have a Work / Life Balance problem, we have a work problem and it’s time to get back to it.
There is a long list of other phrases that no one has ever said on their death beds, but no one seems to talk about them. They include:
I wish I watched one more episode of House Hunters.
I’m glad no one knows my name.
I’m glad I’ve left my family with nothing.
My point to this is yes, there’s more to life than work, but work is a part of life. Neglecting work will not make us happy just like working just to work won’t bring fulfillment either. I’ve never been a big believer in balance as theory, but from where I stand, our society has gotten lopsided on the leisure side of the ledger and it’s time to get back to work.
I personally love work, but that’s not my reason for writing this post. I believe that three great things happen for us when we embrace and learn to love showing up and putting in the work.
We Get Paid
I have never shown up to work for a paycheck in my life but recently I have embraced what those paychecks have done for, not only me, but the people I care about in my life. It’s great to spend time with them. It’s best to do it with the lights and heat on or with food on the table. Getting paid is a pretty strong reason to get to work.
For the longest time I rejected the idea that money was important. The truth of the matter is that it’s only important if you don’t die tomorrow. Money can’t buy happiness and there are a lot of fools who are spending all they own trying to learn that lesson but, what money can buy is freedom, and that is happiness.
We Value Ourselves
If I opened this post with a phrase that I can’t stand, let me use one now that I truly love: Work gives people dignity. When we show up, give our best effort and earn a living we see ourselves differently. We value ourselves just a little more.
One of the biggest sins we can commit is to waste the gifts we were given. It eats away our self-respect, our confidence and lessens us in our own eyes. When we get to work, we value ourselves and that is truly priceless.
We Build Our Legacy
Every one of us wants to be remembered after we’re gone. It’s part of human nature. Even if we want to be remembered as great parents, or grandparents, brothers and sisters or sons and daughters, it takes an income to do that. We can show up and put in our 40 hours and take our two weeks every year, but that kind of average will be forgotten.
“There is an epitaph in Boot Hill cemetery in Arizona which reads, ‘Here lies Jack Williams. He did his damnedest! What more can a person do?’ Well, that’s all I could do. I did my damnedest, and that’s all there was to it.” Harry Truman
This is the kind of legacy I’m talking about. Being remembered for doing your damnedest and it only happens when we get back to work.
No one ever laid on their deathbed and said that they wish they had spent more time at work, but the real regret that all of us will feel is that we wasted what we were given. For those who depend upon us, for ourselves and our self-respect and for those we hope will remember us. It’s time to get back to work.