All Your Work will Disappear

Let that set you free.

All of us are creatures of a day; the rememberer and the remembered alike. — Marcus Aurelius

Work long enough and the moment comes when you must reckon with the reality that all the time and energy you are investing or have invested is for something that will eventually fade away.

Everything you’ve created will eventually be destroyed or replaced.

All the things you stress about will cease to matter.

Today’s successes and tomorrow’s failures.

The titles and achievements.

Will be long forgotten.

Every day you push the rock up the hill. Eventually, you get to the top and the rock rolls back down the hill.

You start again.

You push the project up the hill. Then there is another project.

You solve the conflict. Then there is another conflict.

You get the job you desired. Then there is a layoff.

You get a new boss. Same as the old boss.

The secret is that this recognition isn’t the path to frustration, despair or discouragement, it’s the door to freedom and creativity.

You’re probably questioning my sanity but stay with me for a minute.

What is the real source of frustration, despair or discouragement?

Isn’t it in the expectation that all the problems will be solved?

That tomorrow will be different?

That suffering isn’t normal?

That the next job will be the right job?

That this time will be the last time?

If only, if only, if only…

This is your moment of truth.

You can see things differently, if only for a moment.

Hold on to that moment.

Even if it feels uncomfortable.

The key to joyful work –

is in letting go of temporary and unrealistic expectations.

From this new point of view,

the problems feel less threatening.

Competing or comparing less useful.

Complaining less rewarding.

You begin to do your work without being defined by the work.

No need for the work to meet all your needs, bend to your will or conform to your expectations.

You may choose to change your work to better fit your purpose or personality but without the illusion that this will solve all the problems or make you happy.

You can be passionate and creative without becoming personally attached to the outcome.

Now there is room to experience your work without the same level of judgment, expectation, fear or control.

To see it for what it is.

To be honest and vulnerable.

To be open and flexible.

To be mindful and proactive.

To laugh at the absurdity.

To use your words wisely.

To appreciate others.

And dance with the events that make each day unique.

Enjoying work as simply another part of life’s brief journey.

A very important part but not the whole story.

I know this might sound cynical.

But secretly…

Sometimes, when I’m in a meeting where people are pulling out their hair and running amock over some work-related topic or another,

I think –

“You guys realize all of this is temporary, right?”

It makes me smile inside.

Sometimes I want to say it out loud.

But of course, I never do.

Not because I don’t think we should resolve whatever is happening.

But because of how it puts things in a different perspective.

It slows everything down.

Calms the emotions.

And makes space for the right action.

Make the world a better workplace. @scottamabry

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