Focusing on your professional life, can lead to a full life in every aspect.
There are many songs about refusing to grow up, but even more today that celebrate that refusal, or celebrate a life as a perpetual adolescent.
“I ain't trading my youth for no suit and jacket I ain't giving my freedom for your money and status So don't say I'm getting older Cause I'll say it when I do Cause everybody I know, everybody I know Is growing old, is growing old too quickly And I don't wanna go So how am I supposed to slow it down so I can figure out who I am?”
- Judah and the Lion “Suit and Jacket
There is strange disinterest in developing an earnest work life. Or if a professional life, attempting to separate it from all other parts of life into a contained silo. Senator Ben Sasse wrestles with this issue and more in his recent book “The Vanishing American Adult”
“I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crisis without parallel in our history. We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids simply don't know what an adult is anymore - or how to become one. Many don't even see a reason to try. Perhaps more problematic, the older generations have forgotten that we need to plan to teach them. It's our fault more than it is theirs.” ― Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance
I never knew I had a choice. My parents did not push a specific path, but I saw in their examples I had a responsibility: to learn, to get a job, to get married, and to have children.
I read John T. Molloy's “Dress for Success” and did what it said as a teenager so I had every possible advantage. I looked like a dweeb in school caring a briefcase and wearing a tie, but I wanted an opportunity. And I envisioned that hard work, made the other aspects of life better. And it did.
My parents did not tell me I could be anything I wanted to be. They told me hard work was sometimes rewarded. Note, they said “sometimes”.
I worked, and do work, many hours. I don’t mind time in the office on the weekends, or an evening working on special projects. I travel away from my family frequently to manage sales, projects and to interact with those I serve. But, I put the same amount of energy to my marriage, children and friendships. I attempt to be intentional with each waking moment. I answer work calls on the weekend and at night, and I answer my family’s calls in the middle of the week.
My work life provided opportunity that bled into all my life. I did not make much money when I got married. We could afford a cheap apartment and old cars and we never knew if we would ever have more than that, but we pushed forward in our careers and enjoyed what we did have. We were content in the present and hopeful about the future.
We are all called to labor. It’s in our DNA, and we feel more complete when labor is a part of our lives. There are many proverbs about work, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.”
Unlike Douglas Rushkoff I do not fear a future without jobs. Changing technology has only intensified my work and provided more jobs in our offices. We are in need of additional committed individuals who have a full view of their lives with their professions deeply integrated.
Does our profession define who we are? Not necessarily. What defines you is how you work and how you serve no matter what you do, or decide to do next.
Because of my efforts in the professional space I have: provided for my family, seen amazing places, met unique and incredible people, built priceless friendships, and experienced life long learning. Without the effort, I would have missed out on so much.
So encourage the young people about you to get busy and serious about their professional commitments. It is through our work that we also influence the world.