You probably celebrate the art of working your booty off. We’re raised that way. I would go as far to say that hard work is American. The two are equitable in most of our minds.
And what could possibly be wrong with working so hard? It’s how we build our societies. It’s how we support our families and ourselves. It’s the bedrock for ingenuity and creation. It’s the baking soda of our lives: allowing our dreams to rise.
My answer would be nothing, that nothing is wrong with hard work. Until it stops being hard work and turns into straight up obsession.
You know what obsession feels like: can’t stop, won’t stop, don’t know how to stop thinking, brewing, strategizing, mulling, moving moving moving toward one. singular. thing.
Our life view becomes a one stop shop. It’s that (the object of our obsession) or it’s bust. It’s accomplishment, or nothing. All of our eggs are in the obsession’s basket. And the basked is on a 100 MPH train away from us.
If you’re saying yes I totally know that feeling… you’re not alone. I’ve been an obsessor too, particularly a goal-oriented obsessor (ok ok, sometimes a people obsessor but we’ll leave that post for another day.) And I’ve personally experienced the letdown of an obsession not becoming mine – no matter how much of my soul I poured into it.
Obsession can wreck you. It can leave you very alone, because so much of your identity is wrapped up in that single focus. If it comes to fruition, you can often feel very unfulfilled- like “this is it?”. If your obsession doesn’t pan out, unraveling is often not too far away.
And the whole time: the days, months or even years of obsessing…. you disguised it with hard work. It was easy to get away with. It was easy for your daily obsession to go unnoticed, even to yourself.
So how do you work your ass off without becoming obsessed?
You detach and trust. Trust, because that which is meant for you will not pass you by.
You trust your talents, skills and will. You trust the bigger picture.
That trust will allow you to detach. And here’s the thing about detachment – it doesn’t mean you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. It doesn’t mean you don’t have desires. It simply means you welcome whatever does show up in your life, even if that looks different than what you were working towards.
What have you obsessing over lately? How can you take that amazing, hard-working energy, mix it with a strong trust in the Universe, and detach?
Every once in a while, obsession can happen as a result of our need to be perfect. If that’s you, especially this holiday season, check out my Perfectionist’s Guide to the Holidays on The College Prepster.