I've talked many times about how starting, and eventually working for your passion project is a blessing, but also a ton of work. I wanted to bring some clarity around putting your project on pause, putting in the time, and keeping afloat through it all.
I recently read a post about how millennials and gen Z'ers are so focused on putting aside mental health, physical health, and priorities to just "make your shift" and just make it to the office for the sake of the business. That mindset, that culture, had me thinking about how we start to address, and how we start a conversation about serving our own needs to then serve the office needs. It also had me reflecting on the time I put in to serve "the machine's" needs before my own.
Turn back the clocks a hundred or so odd thousand years. Work was about serving our own needs, and not about someone else's. If one needed berries, but was good at making huts, one could trade time and sticks to get berries. To serve the need for berries. Somewhere along the line, we lost that concept. We're so dead set on just not getting fired for not showing up...because all we needed was a day of collecting berries. Hopefully you're following the concept.
The reality is that it's not about the berries for us anymore, and it's about someone else, either a customer, or your boss, getting the berries. So arises two questions...how do we start make it about us again, and how do we manage ourselves when it isn't?
With life moving faster than ever before, and at a financial cost greater than ever before, the truth is that there are just the times where we put our head down and work. Where we just won't have time to dig in to our passion project or even things we enjoy. I have been there, and I expect you'll probably recognize you're in, or have been in this loop. I'll be clear - it is not a time to forego mental and physical health, so if you relate to that post at the beginning, there needs to be dramatic change. Take it from someone who made dramatic change.
If that dramatic change is on the horizon, or even a thought, what is falling apart for you that can be pieced together? What marginal change can you make to inch your way in the right direction? If the answer is fuzzy, you aren't alone. I remember a time where everything I loved was on pause, and it was just work, endless and vicious and I couldn't see a way out - I know that feeling. But when an opportunity to make a marginal change presented itself, I inched my way towards it, and created a glimmer of hope.
The lesson here is not shiny and colorful. It's simply that little moves, inching yourself forward, like asking for help (which is not a sign of weakness), can make things a bit easier - and when compiled, they tend to add up. Make one small aspect about yourself again, and give yourself a little berry, so that eventually, you can trade in all your berries - all your positivity, for a hut: time into your passion project, health, etc.
We still haven't solved our problem. And incremental change can seem fruitless, I know. So, how do we serve ourselves before the machine? How do we just stay afloat?
The short answer: we start to draw lines
Here's what I mean. Start to add value to your own _________ (insert value here). That's not to say value your job less, but be clear with yourself first that you value your own ______ the highest, and that you won't cross that line. And don't let it be a bargaining chip, or always the reason you can't work. But if you truly value something, let that shape your decisions, and don't feel bad about it. The more you stay true to what you value, the more you'll find that all your actions work to keeping that thing safe, and the easier staying afloat seems.
Again, the lesson isn't awe-inspiring, but it's practical. Admit to yourself that things aren't perfect, but you care about _____ and won't let that thing go.
Look, work is broken. It's changing. I believe that for every one person that says "Hey, I'm noticing that my productivity has dropped as a result of burn out" to their boss, we make a little step in the right direction. And it is not an easy subject. It is not easy to dig deep and take a hard look at what isn't working and it is even harder to do something about it.
When I look at my work now, there are still times where I need to ask myself what isn't working, what are stress points (good and bad), and what I need to address. It's one of the things that I hate doing, but improve my work and my _______.
Hopefully, this isn't too much rambling. I feel really passionate about the need for people to stop putting certain necessities at risk to just make an extra buck for the machine, all the while keeping that relationship in a good balance. And I'll stress that good balance part, because this is not permission to just call in every day because you need berries.