Living Well

January 21, 2010

Make a Choice to Live, Not Just Endure

Filed under: Uncategorized — dlneidert @ 10:14 am
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Multitudes of people die a little more each day at 5 pm without even knowing it.  This is the hour when scores of people awake to discover they died a little more that day because they are in jobs they hate, force themselves to endure, or use merely to pay the expenses accumulating in their lives.  This is confirmed by a survey released today showing that 55% of workers, both young and old, are dissatisfied with their work environment.

Some time ago, I read a “Letter to the Editor” in a popular business magazine from a young man toiling in a company that he cannot wait to leave once he has “enough experience.”  This toxic working place is draining the life out of him eight hours at a time.  No wonder he lamented in this letter that the only energy he musters is for enduring rather than contributing to his company.  His letter gives us an image to go with the observation of American poet, Edward Dahberg, “Man pines to live but cannot endure the days of his life.”

In earlier vernacular, it was fashionable to speak of ‘pining’ for something, particularly one’s sweetheart.  The phrase is no longer in vogue, but it legitimately captures the way multitudes of people feel about their work and lives.  People often grow weary with longing for a more fulfilling job, career, or life.  Women and men not only grieve but also ache to possess a more satisfying existence, one that makes them feel complete like having the love of a special someone.

I don’t think it is off base to assert that people feel grief (a loss, brokenness) for a more fulfilling job or daily existence.  As a former HR director and student of leadership for the past 30 years, we see this ‘soul grief’ played out in lost productivity, high turnover, absenteeism, and debilitating stress.  I used to watch the percentages of these in workforce figures.  These numbers often gave me a clue when things were not going well in the heart of those employed.  What is sad for leadership (or should be a concern for leaders) is that this grief and stress secretly harbored may become so profound that is spills over in how a person engages their families, friends, and those closes to them.  What happens in the work environment, I believe, has a direct link to the quality of our well being not only personally, but in our communities.

I hear and read about the longing of employees several times a year in a class I teach.  During a five week course, the final class assignment is developing a personal written mission statement.  The students in this particular class get to present his or her mission statement after they have used many of the questions I am including in my blog posts.  It has NEVER failed that on the night of these student presentations that some of the adult students announce they have resigned from his or her current employment because he or she awoke to the subtle death happening to them eight hours at a time.  I always forewarn them that this might happen during the opening night of class, but most don’t believe it.  I haven’t been wrong yet, even with the most skeptical of students.

Developing and living by a personal written mission statement helps us have a sharper image of what will bring well-being and fullness to our lives.  A personal mission statement will also help us make the choices necessary to live well in all areas of life.

Is spending your life just enduring what happens appealing to you?  Does dying eight hours a day to pay the rent fulfill your dreams and purpose?  Spending time coming to terms with your life and purpose is a worthwhile endeavor, because you have to ultimately answer the two questions above.   So consider:

If no barriers existed to what you could do or be in life, what job, work, or activity would you undertake that would bring you personal fulfillment?  Why would it fulfill you?  What would it provide (honestly) that your current situation does not supply?  What would it take you to start uncovering your dream job, work, or activity?  How would living out this change help you live a life that has meaning and purpose?

Blessings for this day.  Find life, hope, and excitement as you consider this moment and your future.

Grace and Peace.

David Neidert


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