Practice Management | 10/04/2017
Working 9 to 5: Cultivating Meaningful Work
After my wife and I attended a recent party, a friend mentioned to her that I didn’t seem like myself. She was right. I wasn’t. In large part, the reason I was off that night was because I’d been working incredibly long hours for about a month, but at the heart of that issue was this: Even though I care deeply about serving advisors and advisor technology firms, it is not the most meaningful work in my life. When I focus only on the business, I’m in danger of losing my way. The same is true for you.
Doing work we care about it is a tremendous gift. Your work is literally changing the financial future for people who need help preparing for the unknown. You help widows sleep well at night. You help business owners feel secure as they step away from working. You give entrepreneurs the freedom to dream big. It’s tremendous, but it’s probably not the only thing that feeds your soul.
There are a lot of statements out there about doing what you love so your work doesn’t feel like work. That’s great. Put it on a cat poster. But, as a person who is literally living out one of my dreams to run my own firm, let me take a moment to admit that this contribution is not enough to sustain me. Your 9 to 5 probably isn’t enough to sustain you either. Expecting your job to fulfill your entire buffet of happiness is unrealistic.
That’s why each of us needs to find a way to make a contribution to the world that reflects who we are. Cultivating this side of ourselves isn’t about just giving money (although that may be a part of it), or making money (although that could happen too). It’s all about carving out time to do something to satisfy your creativity, ambition and values.
For years, I have volunteered to coach my son’s flag football team. It’s the kind of thing that I get really excited about. I watch Youtube videos about the best plays to call for the age group. I get fired up to practice with those hopeful faces. I look forward to game days when they’re talking tough and showing some swagger. I so enjoy listening to them talk about all kinds of things and hearing about what’s important to them. I love it.
This fall, my son didn’t want to play, and I didn’t replace that life-giving activity with a new one. I’ve been filling some of that time with work instead. Hearing our friend notice the difference in me was just the eye-opener I needed to remember: keep carving out time to do work that matters.
What about you? What’s the thing you do to feed your soul even if it doesn’t feed your family? How are you finding a way to make a contribution that reflects who you are? I’m looking for something new for myself, so I’m kind of just crowdsourcing ideas at this point. I’d love to hear from you!
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