You’re engaged in work. Happily or perhaps less so.
Either way there’s a question that’s worth asking yourself, Do I own my work, or does it own me?
A number of years ago I got a call from a friend. Rod told me something that floored me—he sold his boat.
Now I know how much that boat meant to him; captaining his vessel along the St. Croix River and the nights moored, sipping wine and enjoying nature. It was his hideout; his refuge; his recharging station.
“Why give all that up,” I asked dumbfounded. “You enjoy it so much.”
“Yes I do,” he replied. “But I realized I no longer owned it. It owned me. It was occupying my every thought. And, I never want a thing to own me.” I count myself fortunate to have such wise and courageous friends.
Recently, his story came to mind thinking about this thing we call “work.” Is it possible that work could own you and me in the same way? Here are three questions to ask yourself:
- Do I feel guilty when I’m not working? The true test of being owned by a thing is the sense of guilt or obligation when you are away from it. That’s what friend my Rod experienced.
- Am I in constant reactive mode? Work can be reactive or creative. We can respond to daily events or engage in creating our future, something I discuss how to do in the Strategic Margin Workshop. When we are in constant reactive mode, we’re working more like a dog than like a master.
- Do I feel trapped? No one likes feeling that there are no choices but it’s amazing how often it occurs. You and I have the power to choose and, like my friend, we may have to take a courageous step to remind ourselves of it.
Being owned by our work is not just for the disgruntled. Those of us who truly enjoy what we do are just as susceptible to forget the volition we have to create the changes that would make what we do even more meaningful.
Comment below: What other signs might suggest that work has owned you?