Pay Attention Or You'll Miss It
It’s 2019 and we’re still obsessed with work. I’m sure this has been the case for centuries, but when I stop and look at everyone around me, this fact just straight up punches me in the face. So, first, I need the get these two things off my chest:
Hustle Porn is Bullshit
[insert instagram superstar name of your choice here] has infected our culture with the idea that the quantity of hours worked daily/weekly/monthly equals the quality of our product/service and the depth of our expertise. 16 hour days, 100 hour weeks, 0 sick days, and 0 vacation days. These are the accolades of hustle porn.
We need to realize that work volume does NOT equal work effectiveness. Your brain doesn’t work that way. Its science. Long days should be the exception, not the normal. You’re not delivering your best work on a consistent basis if you’re burning the candle at both ends. You’re only half showing up.
Take your calendar back, create boundaries, and build the ideal work conditions into your daily routines. If you’re working long days on a consistent basis, you are either a glutton for punishment and hate life, or you are a terrible manager of your time. Find your flow and dont apologize for it.
Work-Life Integration is Bullshit
The coverup for the above problem is to just remove the boundary altogether and call it “work-life integration”. “I’m always working”, or “My brain is always on”. There. Fixed. Now I can just pass it off that I never stop working and I look innovative and prolific.
While I have had the occasional idea hit me in the shower, or had a breakthrough on a problem that I’ve been beating my head against the desk for weeks over… the connection was made because I managed to completely shut my work brain off and focused on being present now. Not striving for what I can do tomorrow. Not replaying that stupid thing I said yesterday. But being here. Now. Feeling the sun on my face. Hearing my kids laugh.
Turn your brain off regularly. Stop reading. Stop working. Stop with the input. Stop. Be present and enjoy the moment. You will like work again. You will hustle effectively. You will find your voice. You will find your intuition.
To Me vs. For Me
The root of these two problems, I believe, stems from us wanting to control the uncontrollable. We try to force structures to achieve our desired outcome.
To over-simplify, there’s two paths that we can follow:
The first path; “life is happening TO me”. I am a victim of my circumstances and I feel like I am constantly pushed into my next step. I am not in control and I resent it.
The second path; “life is happening FOR me”. I am not my circumstances so I feel like I am constantly being pulled forward towards the beautiful unknown. I am not in control and I embrace it.
I choose the second way. Why? It causes me to pay attention.
Hustle Porn and Work-Life Integration have one major flaw; we stop paying attention. The details slip. Our relationships slip. We dont deliver our best work. Our lives feel monotonous. Repetitive.
The remedy? Stop the cycle. Pay Attention. (Easier said than done, I admit.)
Here’s some ways I’m learning to pay attention:
Pay attention to silence and how it makes you feel. Put the phone down. Be bored. Dont be scared of silence. Let your brain, heart, and soul rest. It’s scary as shit sometimes… but I have found no better way to immediately awaken into the present moment. How am I really?
Pay attention to your gut and where it’s leading you. Stop the damn “input monster”. Stop reading. Stop watching videos. Have some original thoughts. Stop drowning out YOUR voice with the voice of others. It’s amazing what starts to well up inside of us when we stop filling up with other peoples input. What must I do that I haven’t done yet?
Pay attention to the details that everyone else is looking over. When you are doing the work you love, be present and mind the details. When you are with your loved ones, be present and mind the details. The beautiful moments and opportunities in work and life tend to happen in the details that we dismiss as unimportant or insignificant. Hunt these moments down with reckless abandon. What am I looking over that’s right under my nose?
Pay attention to others. Self care is important, yes. But you have to keep that in tension with the fact that you are not the only person on the planet. I can’t tell you how many times my kids/wife/friends have connected me with parts of myself that thought I had lost. Creativity and depth that I had forgotten through the years or had become calloused to suddenly activated by watching, listening, and learning from them. The people you surround yourself with will bring out the best in you. The world needs that version of you. What can I learn from others?
Life is happening FOR you.
We dont have to be stuck in the anticipation of the future, and the replay of shame in the past. We can choose to be present. It’s worth it. The world needs a fully present you. And that can start today.