Finding Meaning In A Complicated World

Posted by Rebecca Dannenfelser on Thu, Jun 05, 2014

cc work life balance 001I don't know about you, but some days I wake up and think, is this it? Am I doing this thing called life right? And, if I am how come I feel so stressed and tired all the time? Why do things feel so hard? When did it all get so complicated and why is it so hard to find the right work life balance? I am always running from project to project, yet I feel like I never have what I need to show for it. 

I was in the grocery store the other day to pick up some peanut butter (with two teenage boys at home, we go through a lot of the stuff), and I thought when did this happen? There are now well over 40 different peanut butters: extra crunchy, crunchy, smooth, whipped, organic, sugar-free, salt-free, extra protein, old-fashioned, honey enriched and so on from an assortment of brands I knew and some I had never heard of. Gone were the days of Skippy, Jif and Peter Pan dominating the category and battling it out. I must have stood there for ten minutes pondering my options. Settling on a private brand, organic version of sugar free, smooth peanut butter took time, but had I really accomplished anything? Would my teenagers really thank me for choosing organic over conventional or even appreciate the deliberation it took?

I went home from the store and sat down to read the New York Times article on "Why You Hate Work", that highlights what we've been hearing the past few years about employee engagement levels and it hit me. Our lack of engagement at work has a lot in common with picking out a jar of peanut butter:

  • It's all gotten way too complicated: roles aren't clear, workloads are heavier than ever, and technology hasn't made it easier but harder
  • Decisions take a long time to make as a result of a high level of data and once we make them, we second guess them (i.e. Should I have gone with the low sugar versus the no sugar from the private brand or from Jif?)
  • We no longer feel any connection to the mission, vision or values of the company because we really don't understand how that lines up with who we are
cc huffington thriveSo in my response to the malaise and apathy I have been feeling as of late, I decided to crack the book my boys and my husband gave me for Mother's Day. Arianna Huffington's book "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder." Before you begin to think, I am into mindfulness, yoga and a host of other propensities espoused to the writer, let me assure you, that has not been the case. But, this book is so much more than that, it has offered me (and thousands of others- the book is ranked #109 on Amazon) a way to put into perspective what I am feeling about my life and my work.

Things are too complicated:

  • We are too sleep deprived, too dependent on technology, too stressed, too anxious
  • We are working too long, too hard and without an answer to the reason why
  • We are in need of a movement to help us slow down, re-engage, find meaning, and time to play
  • We have lost our way as it relates to the need to make more, do more, keep up, stay current, compete and it is truly costing us 
It is high time, we took the time to re-commit ourselves to having a life that matters; one with meaning and purpose where we do not feel the need to be anything but our best selves capable of bringing out the best and brightest in others. 

I just hope the next time I go to buy peanut butter, I keep these lessons top of mind!

“Making money and doing good in the world are not mutually exclusive.” -Arianna Huffington

Topics: employee engagement, work life balance

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