A Mindful Career

A Mindful Career

The mindfulness movement has gained a considerable following recently as more and more of us try to deal with the stress and anxiety of our “always-on” culture.  The movement offers a way to restore balance between the demands of our cell phones, tablets, laptops and desktops and our ability to enjoy and appreciate life.

While that’s obviously important, there is another aspect of “always-on” that is equally inimical to a well lived life.  It is our overbearing sense of obligation and allegiance to our employers.  Too many Americans are always-on the job.  They are so devoted to their employer’s well being, they ignore their own.

Consider the true story of a senior financial manager in a company that was going out of business.  His job was to ensure a smooth shutdown of operations, but he was so committed to that role, he ignored what was going to happen to him when it was over.  As a result, the company was efficiently shut down while he was left out in the cold without employment.  The company (and its owners) fared well; he and his family did not.

The counter to such self-sacrifice is a “mindful career.”  It is the notion that there must be a balance between the demands of our job and the other responsibilities we have in our lives.  It acknowledges that we must always do our best work for our employer, but never harm ourselves or those who depend on us in the process.

On one level, of course, there’s nothing new in that maxim.  We have long been warned about working so hard that we overlook our life outside of work.  As it’s often summarized: No one ever put “I wish I had spent more time in the office” on their tombstone.

A mindful career, however, goes beyond that understanding to something deeper – our innate sense of loyalty to those with whom we affiliate.  We care about our employers, we take pride in their accomplishments, and we are often driven to do whatever we can to help them succeed.  That’s fine, but a mindful career recognizes that it also has its limits.  We must not let our loyalty to an organization overwhelm the loyalty we owe ourselves and our families.  That balance is also essential to a full and joyful life.

Thanks for reading,
Peter