Why I Won’t Work Harder
I don’t want to go faster anymore. And I don’t want to do more.
I want to go at a pace that suits me. And I want to do less.
Much of my early molding was fashioned around ideas that venerated our family’s immigrant roots. They included notions like: doubling down efforts, meeting each and every challenge with more energy, more work, more passion, denying myself rest now for reward later.
When I threw myself into my career in my 20s, I was throwing, literally. Pushing. Making every opportunity I was given a chance and a moment for me to do something excellent. I wanted to throw strikes as frequently as I could and I wanted to master other pitches eventually as well. I wanted my reputation to be one of industriousness, persistence and excellence.
I was taught, I had witnessed and I believed that hard work would be key to my success.
This is an important lesson for the first half of one’s life.
And a less important lesson for the second half.
I do attribute much of what I achieved in the first half of my career to this drive.
But I do not want my drive to be in the driver’s seat moving forward.
Don’t mistake. I’m not pulling off the road. I’m not envisioning my retirement. I don’t really believe in retiring from life or meaningful pursuits.
Yet, I actually want to see the countryside, smell the breeze as I go, and stop to stroll around the sites so I can learn more, listen more and actually be whole and cognizant as I go.
And I have decided that working harder is a limiting mindset. (More on why this is so in my next post.)
This is a challenging idea to me. It goes against what I was taught. It goes against what got me to here (at last I think so). It admonishes me not to use what I perceive to be my most developed muscle group and asks me instead to develop something new.
I dread it. I am open to it. I’ve been open to it in theory for a long time and have slowly been turning the ship in this direction.
And at this moment, I find myself more willing.
I am willing to receive. I am willing to focus more intently on my spirit and my soul. I am willing to reduce and pace and hold off. Not that any of these things is or will be easy. They won’t.
But I want to change.
I’m starting just by admitting things like: I don’t want to go faster. I don’t want to do more.
I’m starting by asking myself, “Are you truly calibrating your life toward where you know, in your soul, that you want to go?”
I’m supporting these efforts with small actions: purging my physical space and mental and emotional space of the extraneous.
What makes this work more challenging for me is that, by nature, I am a giver. I give of my talents, my time, my art, my love, my emotional capabilities, my mental capabilities, my way with words.
I give because I am.
I give because I have been given.
I give because to me that’s a meaningful life.
This new approach is whispering in my ear, staying, “my darling, you must be careful about your giving and open yourself up to receive.”
Bitter pill, tough to swallow.
Growing up, my mother was my role model, best friend and grounding and inspirational source. She had a magical charisma to her and was the epitome of giving.
She spent her one wild, precious life giving every ounce of herself to others. To those of us on the receiving end of these gifts – our lives were forever changed. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were changed by my mother’s giving.
And yet, she died with far too much of her own music still inside of her generous body, mind, heart and soul.
I am inspired by my mother still – both her generosity and her tragedy.
And so at this midpoint in my life, I am slowing down, focusing in and choosing very carefully.
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