One of the keys to success that we hear a lot is “Hard Work”. There is this myth that if you work hard and put an effort in anything you will succeed. It might be true but will you be happy as well? I can claim that I worked hard all my life. I used to wake up at 5 am during my teens to study, I worked hard to get into one of the best universities in Iran, I moved to Canada and I continued my education, I tried hard to get a job I liked, therefore, if success means hardwork I was successful but last summer I relaized that I am not a happy person and that there is a difference between being socially successful and happy within. It didn’t take me long to realize that this phrase misses couple of key words. “Working hard in the right direction” is the correct phrase in my opinion not just simply working hard like a zombie days and nights!
I was not on the right path as my profession didn’t embrace my values, my strengths and my beliefs as a whole. So although I succeeded because of hard work I didn’t experience a profound satisfaction. And I think the key item missing in my equation was “knowing myself”.
knowing yourself is the key to a prosperous life inside and out. It is the first important component to a better and more aligned life. So I guess before putting all our efforts into a career , a project and a lifestyle we have to make sure that it is the direction in life we want to take and experience.
As an engineer who works in a project-based industry I got an opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate my direction of life back in 2013 when I got laid off but I didn’t. Instead I jumped into the typical job search and I started a new job after 3 months. Do I regret it? Absolutely. I have read a lot in the last couple of months regarding the steps to avoid once you don’t have a job. I took all of them!! I didn’t allow myself to discover, to observe, and to reflect as the definition of success was still the old myth I had in mind which was the hard work. So it took me another 3 years before waking up. Starting yesterday I am on a time-off status as my employer is out of project. And unlike the previous experience, I am extremely happy as I have a second chance in my life to change my destiny.
Starting yesterday I am thinking of optimizing my time while I don’t have a daily job and I thought of couple points to be careful of:
- Attention and Focus: I believe the most important step to make a change in life is attention. Attention to myself, to my needs as a human being, attention to my surrounding, people and activities which excite me, attention to the passions and interests that knock on the door and I constantly ignore them. The attention to be aware of the tools I have and I need to execute the projects I desire, the attention to see the difference and the attention to enjoy the moments. So I believe attention is the key to find the right direction in life and to take the correct step and it becomes critical once you want to make major changes.
2. Self discipline: our lives are all structured for us to operate. We have a frame to work with. We wake up in the morning we go to school, we come home, we do our homework, we watch tv, and we sleep, and then university and then a daily job. So basically we follow the same trend for some decades of our lives. What if we have all the time in the world with no limitation? What if we are responsible to navigate our hours and our days? How do we function? I think for all of us whose brains have been wired in a certain way, with an imposed structure, we have to learn to plan our days in an optimum, joyful and efficient manner.
I have watched an amazing show couple of days ago which made me think of our struggles in the modern life. The show which called Monumental presented the aggressiveness, despair and constant strive of the modern human being screaming for survival in a world so cruel and intense with no empathy. Two hours of intense modern dance accompanied with God Speed You Black Emperor post rock deep music left all the audiences awed, and bewildered at the same time. I frequently think of their dance moves, their dances on the little boxes which could represent their limited space to explore because of the society pressure and routines, their struggle to fit in the system, their blindness in following each other and the system and every other gesture that a modern man does these days. And it doesn’t matter if you are an employer, an employee, an entrepreneur, an artist or a teacher. We have all been brain washed to work hard, to run and to miss the moments in the modern life. That has become our mindset. So watching this show at this time of my life was a valuable experience.
So now that I believe I have this mindset I want to use any tool I have to fight it and change my definition of success, happiness and purpose as I believe we all deserve better lives…..