It’s time to change how we live and work, because the old way isn’t working anymore
Overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, burnt out, disengaged, and lost. We’re drowning in connectivity. Here’s what to do about it.
This is the first piece in an essay series on bringing humanity back to life and positively transforming the way we live, work, and operate in our always-connected 21st-century environment. The whole series can be viewed here.
The world has forever changed with the advent of the internet, yet we as humans haven’t at all figured out how to manage our always-connected, constantly-communicating, rapidly-evolving 21st-century lifestyles. We’re more connected than ever and live in the midst of an abundance of knowledge, information, and access, yet we’re more overwhelmed, distracted, and lost than ever before.
Go check with your friends and colleagues. Ask them how their lives are going, and how they’re feeling about their day to day operations. Ask about how things are at work. Listen to what they’re saying, and you’ll notice how so many of them respond by stating they’re super busy, overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, lost, lacking purpose, and seeking fulfillment. They may not use those words exactly, but the sentiment is clear: work isn’t working.
“80% of organizations believe their employees are overwhelmed with information and activity at work” — Deloitte
Many of us work within organizations that cannot help but breed further negativity and problematic environments, which only perpetuate the problems and pile on the symptoms. Deloitte notes that “the work environment is highly complex — where we once worked with a team in an office, we now work 24/7 with email, instant messages, conference calls, and mobile devices that have eliminated the barriers between our work and personal lives.” This is not healthy, given the report goes on to explain how “overworked people tend to burn out, produce lower-quality output, provide lower levels of customer service, become depressed, and sometimes just flail around in their exhaustion.”
These statements are saddening and concerning given that most of us have to work in these systems in order to make our living. With the modern working world being so overwhelming and stressful, how, then, are we to combat these changes and create lifestyles, workplaces, and operations that enable us to perform at our best, while living our lives on our own modern terms and not those of existing, post-industrial organizations?
While many thought leaders and consultants are focused on driving change from the top down by empowering leaders to reinvent their organizations, the rest of us will surely benefit from simultaneously exploring how we, as everyday people and emerging leaders, can make adjustments within our own lives to drive the shift from all those negatives into more positive environments. “Giving people time lets them relax, engage, and perform better,” Deloitte says. Mindfulness institutions agree, and business leaders have started talking about the positive effects of mindfulness, self-awareness, and disconnection, especially as they relate to modern workplaces and the future of work.
Perhaps we first need to reinvent ourselves, so we can then reinvent our organizations.
The following essay series is based on recent observations of people in my network who are living their lives, but not fully experiencing them. People who work their days away but don’t entirely feel fulfilled, and are continually seeking more — more time, more fulfillment, more energy, more enjoyment, more creativity — yet are often blaming their organizations, industries, careers, workloads and more, for their feeling of overwhelm. Pointing fingers in myriad directions and accusing others for feelings of chaos, we often forget that we benefit most when we look internally at our own lifestyles and habits, instead of just leaning on the way things are. The status quo.
“As employees become more connected and messages and information proliferate, it is increasingly important for employers to develop standards, principles, and technologies that simplify work.”
Deloitte further notes that “companies need to recognize that the overwhelmed, hyper-connected employee is a business concern,” and therefore must take action to reverse these negative effects and create more positive working environments. But I believe this modern working world we’re living in — the hyper-connected, constantly-communicating, 24/7 work-on-the-mind environment — is a concern for humanity, not just for business. Furthermore, I believe the change can start with us. The workers. The leaders. Right here, right now.
While the future of work will inevitably be developed by thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and organizational designers, it’s going to take a significant amount of time before the majority — let alone the entirety — of our American working culture shifts from post-industrial to 21st-century. The beauty of making changes for ourselves is that it puts us in control, gives us power over our livelihoods, and let’s us get started right now. Today.
These essays are written with the intention of helping people find joy in their work by changing the way we live, work, and operate in our always-connected 21st-century environment.
I consider it my personal goal to help people reinvent themselves so they can reinvent their organizations. I believe we all deserve to be happy and live pleasant lives, and therefore we must reinvent how we live and work, as we can’t go on with the onslaught of negative consequences we’ve been inundated with thanks to our modern connected lifestyles.
This essay series is designed to help you infuse some inspiration and mindful practices into the operations of your daily life, so you begin to see things from new, more positive perspectives. By combining real life observations and experiences with research from leading institutions like Gallup, Deloitte, McKinsey and more, we’ll discuss America’s current working culture and explore small changes that lead to big, positive shifts in how we approach our lives.
I’ve written with the intention of guiding you to question your status quo and begin to see the beauty that’s right in front of you, regardless of what situation you’re in.
I know what it’s like to be negative, and I know how I feel when I’m positive. When I’m struggling with a negative mindset, my life sucks, the people around me suck, and I’m forever exhausted and lazy, unable to get started let alone accomplish anything of value. On the flip side, when I’m operating with a positive mindset, I feel enlightened, confident, and ready to take on the world! And that’s the type of mindset I want you to have when you approach your work, so we can both go out there and create the changes we want to see in the world. Simple as that.
These practices are not my trade secrets. In fact, they’re mostly ancient human philosophies that have continuously been used to help people feel better about their lives, discover new senses of awareness, and seek out their own definition of happiness. They also happen to empower us to start living with intention, which is one of the first steps towards creating the future we want to see. While these practices are not new, my approach of aiming them directly at our always-connected modern working styles might be.
Through a lot of exploration I’ve discovered my purpose is to help people feel better about their lives, which has led to me being fully driven to make a difference, today. My vehicle for doing so is by spreading knowledge and inspiration about the necessary shift in American working culture so everyone in our country gains the opportunity to live their life in positive, fulfilled, enjoyable ways, and fully embrace the opportunities we’re afforded now that our world is globally connected and information has been set free.
We all deserve better ways of working — and living — but we’re getting in our own way by operating based on institutions, organizations, and structures of a world that once was. It’s time to create changes that usher in and fully support the new, modern, 21st-century workforce.
Ready to join the movement? Let’s go!
I help teams think differently, develop fresh perspectives, and lead change. Working as a creative strategist, writer, and consultant in collaboration with brands, agencies, and organizations, I’m brought in to challenge the status quo, shake up traditional thinking, and open up new possibilities. Through workshops, consulting, and collaboration, I’m here to help you design better strategies and deliver better work.
You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.