Compliments feel good, so good that we naturally live for them.
We like the applause, the praise and envy of colleagues, the pat on the back, our names in bright lights and on the lips of the boss.
The person who delivers. The office hero. The local champion. An asset.
That shit is addictive and work knows this, so work sets KPIs not just to track what we’re doing but to stimulate us with the drug-like rush of achievement.
Ever so clever, work goes further to include a bonus for “exceptional achievement” and we commit to chasing impractical goals so we can get some kind of exclusive reward.
Closing late and pulling all-nighters become normal, the natural human need for rest becomes an inconvenience.
Our interests get pushed farther and farther down our list of priorities until they become has-beens.
We strip our lives bare of the colour that comes with variety till all that’s left is the black-and-white monotony of what we do for a living.
Is this what we call a life though?
We have to eat, no doubt.
That usually means working for money and I can’t tell anyone not to do what they have to do to be able to afford their needs.
But often enough to warrant a rethink, what we believe we have to do to get ahead and what’s actually good for us are not the same thing.
Besides, when we confuse our needs with wants, we put even more pressure on ourselves.
We want to be the star at work. We want the boss to like us a lot. We want to go ‘above and beyond’.
We desperately want to be called an asset by people whose opinions shouldn’t define us, so we do everything we can to be seen that way even when it’s at a great, unjustifiable cost to our lives.
Look, assets have a history of being expendable.
Consider a car, a computer, a filing cabinet, a chair, a desk or even a building.
All playing a role, all replaceable.
You’re not an object.
You have a life so powerful that there’s no factual estimate of how far you can go.
Work probably knows a little bit about your capacity to live a bigger life, but work is always messing with your perspective so you never see beyond work.
Work wants you to expend yourself entirely on work.
I suggest the opposite: Reclaim your life.