It is 7:00pm on a Thursday. I’ve been here at work since 7:00am. I’ve had one break today and that was fifteen minutes so I could each lunch. I probably won’t leave here until 8:00pm. Tomorrow, I’ll be back here at 7:30am. I’ll also work most of Saturday and a few hours in the morning on Sunday. This has been my life for the last three years. If I take a vacation, I still work most of the time. I check in every day.
As I sit here, looking around the empty office, I can’t help but wonder. Why am I here? Not that unanswered question about the universe and the meaning of life. I mean why am I here at the office? No one else is. Not the owner, not my manager. I’m working on something for a customer, which is important. But more important than my own life? The sad truth is my life is my work. What sort of life is that? I sigh and continue to work on my project. It has to be done by next week and I have a lot to do.
This is the life I have created for myself. It was a gradual processes. I use to work 8-5. I’d take an hour lunch. Two weeks of vacation every year. As time passed I became a bigger part of this company, which felt great. A raise every year. Promotions. Unfortunately more work and more responsibility. Along the way, I slowly forgot how to say “No”. How could I? They were counting on me to get this stuff done. To help the company move forward. They piled on the work because I let them. I stopped saying “I have to finish these important projects first. Those projects will have to wait or we will have to figure out a new schedule/deadline for these projects.” I started saying “I’ll make the time to get this stuff done.” 8-5 slowly turned into 7-5. Then 7-6. 7-8. Late nights and weekends. It was because I put my life aside for my work.
I forgot about buying a house. I resigned myself to a solitary life after my fiancée left, citing that I never have time for her any more. I made an excuse “But they need me at work…” What did I gain from that excuse? From any of this? My contract only required me to work 9-5 Monday through Friday. I was expected to meet certain goals. Goals that my manager and I set up. Every review I set higher and higher goals. I set the expectation that I should work more.
This is my life by my own choice. I chose to allow myself to work this much. To put my own life aside to better the company. Is this the life I want? No…
This doesn’t have to be your life or anyone’s life. You have a choice you can be in charge of your own life, your own decisions or you can allow others to be in charge of your life. It doesn’t mean you have to give up or be lazy. It just means you need to think about what you want out of your life first before you put anyone else first.