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“I was working all of the time. I had no life.” A sentiment I heard expressed recently, as I have many times in the past.

Susceptible to equating work with my identity, I’ve often thought I wanted an all-consuming job, though I’ve never had one. There have been times when a demanding project at work absorbed me, when each morning my to-do list was the first thing that came to mind and the goal of the project’s completion felt like my only purpose, but I’ve never maintained the pace long enough to earn “I have no life.”

Those times have been rewarding. I felt fulfilled, trusted to complete my share – being needed, being busy. Still, as each project ended, I welcomed the relief. The end brought satisfaction in a job well done and time to reflect. Was I pleased with the outcome, what could I have done differently?

If there had been no defined end, leaving me perpetually consumed with no allowance to step back, I think I would have begun to feel like I’d had “no life.” Not because there would have been less time for family, friends, or  leisure, but because I would never have had the opportunity to step and ask myself – am I pleased with this outcome? How does this experience inform what I want? What should I do next?