success beyond work

For most people, work takes up a big slice of life.

Even though we talk of ‘working hours’ and being ‘on duty’, really the boundaries of these are entirely permeable.

There’s the hours we’re at work or doing work and also the hours that we’re thinking about it.

It takes up a lot of headspace, well for me certainly.

In the culture we live in work is undeniably related to our identity.

It can have a big impact on how we feel and who we think we are.

If you've ever taken maternity leave or experienced redundancy it would be entirely understandable if you struggled to adjust to the shift.

I recently gave notice for my intention to get married and had to give my profession for the marriage certificate.

This document, a piece of the everlasting black and white paper trail of my existence, cited 3 pieces of information about me; my given name, date of birth and profession.

It struck me how old fashioned this was and how limited a picture these details painted of who I was.

I imagined a great great grandchild scanning the document trying to add flesh to the bones of the bare details.

There was a time when your surname would tell others what you did – that’s how linked it was to your personhood.

It would reveal your skill-level and social standing, which were in those times, two important clues as to the kind of person you played in society.

We are past this point now but still, when you meet someone new is ‘what do you do’ one of the first 3 questions you ask?

I still find myself doing this automatically and I’m trying to steer away from it.

Why? Because we are more than what we do.

I think they should start including top 3 personality traits or 5 greatest loves on marriage certificates – far more interesting!

I do often think about how much influence my work has on how ‘well’ I feel I’m doing.

I know that a working highlight can leave me feeling on top of the world and how down in the dumps I can be if something related to work doesn’t go as I hoped.

I’m really grateful that I can feel so creatively fulfilled by the work that I do and it is without doubt important to me, but I do have to keep check of how much power I give it as the measure of my success.

Work success is one slice of a big success pie.

What about the success of soaking up the joy of a simple moment or really listening to a good friend?

How about knowing how to make a really good cup of tea or having a knack for remembering peoples names?

These deserve to be celebrated too and they should be contributors to our overall sense of fulfilment.

What are your successes? A great love, a personal achievement, a realised hope, a talent or tolerance.

Write them down and do it often, especially when a work related woe threatens to define you.