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The Rut Less Traveled - Burning the midnight oil

Article Date: 
13 April, 2012 (All day)

Ironically, as I write this, it’s just after midnight.  Needless to say, I’m tired.  But when inspiration strikes the writer can’t always have the luxury of trading his pen for a pillow.  And so, I shall add some more oil to my lamp, plug in my laptop and continue down this rut less traveled.  I don’t mind staying up late knowing that someone, somewhere, will find a few more moments of courage to endure and hopefully to enjoy their life more.  That makes any sleepless night worth it to me.

How about you?  Ever have rough days, sleepless nights, feel overwhelmed, overburdened, or like every day it’s the same old ruts and routines?  I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that each punch of the time clock seems like a punch in the gut.  You feel like breaking down before you even get to the break room.  When it’s time for a board meeting, you feel like it’s really a bored meeting.  And every test and term paper seems like a personal test of will, as in will it ever end?  Maybe for you it’s just one more class, one more semester, one more year?  No matter your employment, or education it’s always one more something.  But what do you do when you get to that point where you don’t think you can make it to the next one more anything?

We all get burnt out in life.  Even boredom can become a burden.  You weren’t meant to be lazy, but you weren’t meant for overtime all the time, either.  So what’s the solution?  You can’t just quit, can you?  Don’t they say “Winners never quit!”?  Yes, but there’s more to the mantra’s meaning than most people memorize.  Winners know when to quit, how to quit and why they’re quitting.  This means more than just finding another job before you say goodbye to your boss.  You have to think outside the inbox, the cubicle, and the desk—no matter how creatively you’ve decorated your home away from home.  You’ve got to plan beyond the paycheck and know your limits; when it’s time to step up and work harder and smarter, or step down and find better work.

I know its tough burning the candle of commitment at both ends and you will certainly burn out long before the midnight oil does.  You’ve got to realize that you can’t do it all and you don’t have to.  If you already are then you’re probably nodding your head while reading this.  I’m not suggesting you find an easy way out of whatever work you are doing.  I am suggesting that you sit down with yourself, your family, or a trusted friend and really inventory your schedule and your life.  Better to do an inventory now than an autopsy later!  If you have a family, ask yourself if you are taking care of them financially at the cost of nurturing them emotionally?  I know you can do both, and sometimes you have to.  But if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.  And if you’re not taking care of your own needs you’re already starving your loved ones far worse than not putting food on the table.  Yes, you can have a full time job and a family, but be careful to not let your family’s support go unnoticed or unreturned.  Hearts are much harder to replace than occupations.  And I promise you the pay and benefits from a happy family are much, much better.

Also, you’re greatest strength and ability to endure your schedule duels and recharge when you’re weary and worn out will not come from getting more sleep, more me time, or even plenty of play time.  Yes, you need those things, but they will only help you to survive.  I know sometimes you just have to sacrifice things you want to do and survive, but if you don’t find a greater cause for your life, like your family; if you don’t find something with more meaning than a time-clock and a cubicle, you will wake up one day and wonder where your life and your family went.  Sure, you stayed out of debt and maybe your retirement will get you through a few years on your rear, but did you really live and enjoy life?  Did you really make memories worth remembering?  If you don’t know, or have forgotten, now is the time to find out what makes you happy and pursue your passions in life!  It’s time to stop whining and start winning.  Don’t live to work.  Make a way to work so you can truly live and thrive, not just survive.  Make smart sacrifices and tough choices, but don’t just throw your dreams or your family on the altar of apathy in the name of surviving.

In the end, you will find that you really are meant for more than a 9-5 life.  That doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference and have a good life working 9-5!