The Problem with Loving Your Work

This is usually what the inside of my brain looks like.
Not a weeping angel. A workaholic ADD angel.

No, this is not another “Should you do what you love?” post. I promised that I’d said the last word I would say on that. Rather, consider this a cautionary tale.

The last few days as I’ve been working at home I’ve had a few of my long-time hobby projects turn into full-fledged moneymakers. Suddenly things are much more busy, and I’m planning out videos and laying out books and making scheduled plans for things – it’s downright exhilarating, especially when it’s backed up by a bottom line that is getting further and further into the black.

The Problem

Thing is, I get to the end of a morning, for example, and realize that yes, it’s time for lunch – but I don’t feel like I’ve done any real work. I’ve been writing and recording and editing and such, but not for a “real” boss – no, I’ve been doing it for myself. And therefore I don’t deserve a lunch break, because I haven’t gotten “work” done.

I literally have to stop and go over, step by step, what I’ve been doing as well as the concrete ways it is profitable in order to feel justified in taking a break.

It’s worse at the end of the day, when Natasha asks me if I’m going to “keep working.” I’m having fun with what I’m doing; is it really work? I think perhaps I would benefit to recall my days working at Montessori schools, where they used the following definition:

Purposeful activity is called work. Montessori observed that children learn by engaging in purposeful activity of their own choosing. When children can choose what they do, they do not differentiate between work and play.

But what I need to remember is that this activity was within a “work cycle“:

A basic work cycle begins with choosing an activity, doing that activity, returning the activity to order, and then experiencing a sense of satisfaction…This sense of satisfaction, which may last a few seconds to a few minutes, helps motivate the child (and adult) to choose the next activity, thus creating another cycle of work…

Is it really ever too late to benefit from this kind of a mindset? Can we create our own purposeful environments to get that “sense of satisfaction”? What happens when “work is play for mortal stakes“, as Frost would put it? Do we all just keep working until we collapse of exhaustion?

Because that’s the direction I’m headed…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *