(last edited on February 15, 2023 at 12:26 pm)
Continuing with the “burnout” theme, I’m still having mixed feeling about the nature of work.
WORK. I am weary of it. Part of this is, I think, due to the self-imposed time pressure related to how good I “should” be at blasting through work. My expectations of myself exceed my ability to deliver, and this bothers me a lot. I wish I could feel with certainty that I’m doing a good job at what I’ve chosen to do. As there are no official performance reviews to tell me if I’m doing a good job, I’m missing some sense of closure. This has been the case for many many years. And that’s not all; it occurs to me that I am not even sure what my “end game” is.
Dropping those expectations of myself would be a good first start. There is no knowable perfect template that will guide me through under the conditions of (1) creative independence and (2) the pursuit of meaningful work. In that sense, my “end game” really is just what I end up making along the way. My final deliverable will be sharing the sum of what I have done with my life.
This might not be a bad stance to take, embracing how I deal with uncertainty as my actual “way”. I don’t like uncertainty, but everything I seem drawn to involves a big dose of it; I am constantly in a state between knowing and not knowing, because that is the frontier of knowledge. As much as I’d like the comfort of being certain all the time, it’s really not possible. The kind of certainty I’m attracted to is “optimal ways to do things” more so than “knowing what I am supposed to do”.
It’s a bit disappointing that I don’t have a tangible goal, something like, “You will save people from the heartbreak of premature tooth decay by inventing a bristle-less toothbrush. But maybe it’s not so bad if the decree is, “You will wander where your mind takes you, assessing what catches your eye, and report what you find along the way. Please show your work.”
“You will wander where your mind takes you, assessing what catches your eye, and report what you find along the way. Please show your work.”
Thank you for this! I often feel similarly lost: Where am I going with all of this? So much of our culture (especially business culture) today demands goals and deliverables, a specific ROI for every moment. But those are flimsy measures of quality, success, and value.
I especially love the instruction to “please show your work.” It further encapsulates the idea that the final result is not necessarily more important than the process; the process is where we learn.
I’ve been a reader and tool-user for years, but this is my first time commenting — part of my own commitment to engaging, not just consuming.
Hi David, I’ve followed you for many years, since first discovering your productivity tools. I just wanted to say ‘you’re not alone’ with work burnout. I’m going through the same challenges in 2016. For me there is a strong sense of time & life passing by and that my corporate IT work isn’t letting me create my dream. Plus the usual high pressure projects grinding me into ill health. For me I think I need to learn to trust in my ability and chase the dream. If not now, then when? I hope you are finding your mojo again.