The last few months at work have been a whirlwind of activity. Some of the activity has generated progress, much of the activity is setting the conditions for future progress, and all of the activity continues to prove to be exhausting. One of my favorite quotes from Simon Sinek is, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” Over the years I have used that quote to remind myself that what I am feeling is not stress, but an overabundance of passion. More often than not, it works. I take a deep breath, validate the path I am on, and get back to working hard. Of late, the demands of the day to day are all-consuming. Historically, I have been able to spend a healthy portion of my time on self-development, get the requisite amount of sleep, and actively participate in family activities. These are not historic times and I must do better. Yes, I continue to meet my self-imposed commitment to reflecting, writing, and sharing on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month, but I haven’t done much more than that. The practice of writing cards to teammates has all but disappeared. Out of the blue e-mails and phone calls to friends ‘just because’ are happening far too infrequently. And the travel schedule has made my physical presence with loved ones sporadic at best.

Yes, I am working hard doing something I love. And yes I feel the passion. And yes I feel stressed. And yes I very much dislike the unintended consequences that my extreme focus on work is having. I hate that in many respects I have become too busy for me. It may sound like I am complaining – I am not. Truth is I am enjoying the opportunity to serve in ways I once dreamt of. I am, in fact, venting in public and sharing some of the vulnerability that I know I am not alone in feeling. Those of us who are called to serve know the demands. And by serve, I am talking about serving others in any capacity, not just military service. Truth is there are many who serve themselves and their own self-interests disguised as service to our nation. Not all jobs require the same devotion and not all of us are willing to give it even when it does. But when it does and we do, it’s important to recognize what is happening beyond the job. I don’t want to work as much as I am, but if I am to do my part for the team it’s what is required. It’s not that I don’t want to work, but that I want to do more than work…no matter how passionate I am about it.

Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If we don’t make life outside of work a priority, there will be no life outside of work when the work is done; no family to be there for when we finally have time for them; few friends outside of our professional networks. My current situation won’t last forever and I will enjoy it for as long as it does, it truly is an honor. But I won’t lose any more of myself in the process. I can no longer be too busy for my friends and family. I can no longer be too busy for me.

  • Are you giving your work too much? Too little? Exactly what it requires?
  • How are you prioritizing life outside of work?
  • Do you like the person your work is giving you reason to become?