I'm Not Going to Reach the End of My Life and Wish I'd Worked More

Office work desk

I ran across a comment the other day someone had shared on their social media account. It said something about how only Americans would brag about how much of our lives we've sacrificed for our employers. It pissed me off. I couldn't disagree that far too many Americans do this, and that's why it pissed me off.

Throughout the blogosphere, it is common to see bloggers apologize for their absence. I know I've done it many times. I'm sorry I'll be away for a few days. I'm sorry I haven't written as much as I fear others may expect of me. I'm back now, and I'll try to do better.

But this isn't a job. At least, it isn't a job most of us are earning money for doing. It isn't the kind of job where our readers are paying us for the privilege of reading our work. That makes this behavior even harder to understand. And with that in mind, I don't plan to do it again.

I'd like to write more than I do. The problem is that life keeps getting in the way. I know everyone can relate to that. We all have competing demands for our limited time. Our priorities are bound to be in flux. Nobody needs to apologize for it.

As for bragging about how much we work, I'll take this as evidence of the power of brainwashing. I hold out some hope that this is a generational thing. I'd like to see younger folks free themselves from it. We've all heard someone brag about working 16-hour days or not taking a vacation in several years. The correct response isn't envy but pity.

Remember "the Protestant work ethic," whatever that is? What does it get you? As you count up all those hours, consider everything you missed out on in the process. How available are we to family and friends when we are working like that? How much can we even get to know ourselves when we are working like that?

I've heard the line about how nobody reaches the end of their lives and wishes they had worked more many times. Until recently, I haven't given much thought to why I've heard it so many times. People who cared about me were trying to tell me something. It was something I needed to hear but wasn't ready to hear.

I could be mad that some of those now sharing this message were the same ones who helped to brainwash me to be like this. But that would be a waste of energy. We all have the right to change our minds and grow in the process. They saw the error of their ways and tried to help me do the same. Is it too late now? That's up to me.

What I can say with great confidence is that I'll never look back on my life and wish that I'd worked harder. I have little control over the expectations others might have of me. I have much more control over the expectations I have of myself. It is these expectations, the ones I have of myself, that are critical to my happiness. Recalibrating them every now and then seems like a smart move.

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