Recently, as I was packing up archery equipment following our weekly classes, I was approached by a family of four: father, mother, son and daughter. They all agreed that archery looked like a lot of fun. Watching a small group of archers shoot brought back many memories for the father. He recalled the six years of archery he had done during childhood and adolescence. The longer he watched, the more excited he became, remembering the positive experience. I remarked that it was a great family sport and that I expected to see them on the range in the future. He chuckled and described the current contents of his car which included supplies for rock climbing, fishing, backpacking, and skiing. All activities he said he enjoyed doing but did not have time for.
After a few minutes of silently watching the archers he spoke wistfully, “People always ask me, ‘what do you do’…and I hate that question. I know what they mean…they want to know what I do for a living…and…I…I’m an attorney…but it’s not who I am…it’s not my life….it’s not even what I enjoy doing…it just allows me to make enough money to do the things I really love…except it seems that I hardly have time to do them anymore.” The man continued reminiscing during the fifteen or so minutes he watched. He remembered Sunday drives with his family when he was a young boy and recalled his father teaching him how to read a map. I saw him reach out and pat his son on the back without saying a word.
Normally I’m irritated by wealthy people who complain about how busy they are and how little leisure time they have. And honestly, I don’t really feel sorry for this guy, but the encounter reminded me that your job is not your life. Whether you are a well-paid, burned-out lawyer, or you work two jobs to make ends meet; don’t let your job define you.
Ken Kragen talked about this in his motivational seminars and book “Life is a Contact Sport“; he said “your job is not your life; your job services your life. If your job is not servicing your life, you need to find one that will.” Of course sometimes you have to grind away at a job that interferes with your life as a matter of survival, but it’s important to look beyond the immediate situation and work toward the future you want, while carving out whatever little moments you can.