Are you exhausted and tired of the pressures to become a career rock star or a productivity monger? One effective weapon you can learn is to pursue excellence over productivity. And this is why.
Caution: career-related phrases (or propaganda) can bombard you. They’re common and insidious. Phrases such as, “dream job, successful career, corporate ladder, strive for promotion, great opportunity, etc.” are ubiquitous in our reward-driven society.
Such phrases can imply that you ought to work harder and work longer, that you need to get ahead. Beat everybody else out to make yourself shine. Thou shall appease management, even at your own expense. Do what needs to be done so you (and others) can label your career as ‘successful.’ See related Post #59.
Does that sound at all like you?
If so, I invite you to pause for a few moments. Let’s try a brain exercise – zoom out and simply observe your decisions/actions in the context of your whole life.
Picture an alien that has landed in our nation, tasked with a research project. The research seeks to answer the question, “How do humans integrate work life with personal life?”
The alien starts with simple observations. It sees people hustling and bustling to and from work in a mad dash. People talk and text while driving as they race to juggle kids with tight schedules. Some habitually arrive home after dinner. Or, they work from home throughout dinner with disingenuous attempts to connect with family.
Many of these working humans direct much of their energy toward work tasks. In fact, the alien surmises that workers prioritize their careers over most everything else. Some humans reserve little time and energy for family, friends or for themselves. And some don’t even realize it.
The alien curiously wonders: “Why do so many humans allow work demands to dominate their existence, especially when it doesn’t appear to make them truly happy?”
After a survey of several humans, the alien filters common answers to this question:
- “I need this paycheck.”
- “If I don’t do everything they expect, I may get laid off.”
- “I need to be more productive.”
- “My annual review is coming up.”
- “Management expects a lot out of me.”
- “If I don’t do the work, no one else will.”
- “I want success.”
It is crystal clear to this smart alien that these answers share a common denominator: energies are focused on external rewards and external outcomes.
Alien Conclusions on Human-Career Integration
In its final dissertation, the alien notes 3 general conclusions:
1. Humans are willing to sacrifice their wellbeing, health and happiness in the name of a career.
2. The more energies they direct toward work demands, the more unhappy humans seem to be.
3. In severe cases, some professionals miss out on their human experience and human connection.
The process to pursue and achieve external rewards is an energy-depleting activity. Why? Because external outcomes are (usually) outside of your control. You might believe that if you do the right things and act the right way, you will achieve an outcome. But, let’s be perfectly clear. You don’t get to decide on your own raise, promotion, award, job offer or whether someone decides to like/hate you.
Your energy depletes when you consistently feed the vicious cycle of chasing. In addition, your self-worth is dependent upon outside forces you don’t control. And that is not a way to live.
On the contrary, I would offer that it is much more sustainable, healthy, and controllable to pursue excellence over productivity.
What do I mean by excellence?
It means you pursue internal rewards in the form of effort and pursuit for its own sake. It means you assign credit to the process of learning, outcomes aside. Excellence is the intrinsic process by which you recognize internal knowledge gained, whether personal, professional, mental or physical. The pursuit of excellence is a process that is energy-begetting!
Tips to Building Excellence:
- Direct energies toward self-development and growth.
- Recognize small, daily accomplishments.
- Give your best considering how you’re feeling with the information at hand.
- Be the more mature person in the room.
- Worry about yourself, your efforts and your own thoughts, not those of others.
- Focus energies inward toward your being, not outward toward the outside.
- Accept discomfort when things don’t go your way.
In other words, to pursue excellence over productivity is to create an internal reward system. A system that celebrates your daily wins, losses, successes, and failures despite the outcomes!
If you can form a daily habit to focus on internal progression, the external rewards and achievements will fall into place.
An effective way to start is by answering, “What have I done today with what I’ve been given?“