What Does Your Life Matrix Look Like?
July 31, 2021
There was a time during my mid-thirties where my work took precedence over everything else in my life. 12 hour weekdays and weekend working became the norm. Initially, working hard and long seemed like fun. I was with many like-minded and high-energy colleagues, and it felt as if all the hard work was towards a higher purpose. We were all on a journey to prove ourselves and make a mark professionally. This approach led to great work and great results, and great rewards. But somewhere along the line, the fun was replaced by a nagging need. A need to overwork because there were results and rewards to be achieved. “Working for fun” was replaced by “working for results and rewards.”
Work became a chore, and interestingly enough, the more time I spent at work, the needier I became for the results. And, paradoxically, the needier I became about the results, the more fears I started developing about the results.
“What will happen if something goes wrong or if results don’t happen?”
“What happens if my boss thinks my work is not good enough?”
“What will happen if I lose my job. I have spent so much of my life on this?”
Unconsciously, over a few years, my work became my biggest need, and I became clingy about it. Then, in a vicious negative spiral, I started attaching more and more of my self-worth and happiness to what happened at my workplace.
Thankfully, through the help of mentors and coaches, I was able to pull myself back and revert to a more balanced outlook towards work.
What Did I Learn Through This Experience?
When we get stuck with something that becomes a dominating factor in our lives, we start developing an emotional dependency and neediness that overshadows everything else in our lives. The neediness could be from your Workplace or your Relationships or Money, and it creates attachment and fear. What if I lose the the thing I value ?
Let me illustrate this pictorially. For example, your life is completely about your work and nothing else. This is how your life will look if you make it the dominating factor.
Now, imagine something happens and the the job that you thought was everything goes away. What happens then ? This is how your life will look.
It is little wonder you will feel empty inside because that one thing that defines you is taken away from you.
Your subconscious mind understands this equation, and this is the root of all your fears.
Now imagine if you made your life look something like this.
If you notice, I have deliberately drawn the box bigger because life is not a zero-sum game where if you pay attention to something else, it means that the importance of work goes away. Life is infinite in many ways, and the surface area of our life increases when we focus on other areas beyond just a job or a relationship.
So, now even if the Big J disappears for any reason, your life will look like this.
You still have a full life that does not feel empty, and the fear of something going wrong will not take root. Your life will be full of other experiences that bring joy and satisfaction, and the neediness goes away. Your life will never feel empty because it is no longer hostage to any single overarching factor. You will be able to operate confidently and fill the void of the Job very quickly.
One Important Caveat
How do you approach your work? I am sure you will say, “I give my 100%,” right?
For your life grid to expand, you must give the same 100% to every other facet of your life. The scope of your life will not grow if you are spending time with family but thinking about work. That is not 100% commitment. That is tokenism.
When you commit yourself to other facets of life fully, you will find your neediness in any one area receding and your life expanding.
Draw your own life matrix and see what kind of time and commitment you are giving to each element.