Can You Stop Working?

It’s harder than you think.

Lisa Martens
Jun 9, 2019 · 3 min read
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Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

Work harder. Don’t be lazy. It’s a common mantra.

Everyone likes to think they’re the hard worker. That they’re the one who isn’t lazy.

Everyone is the star of their own story. Everyone wants to be the exception to the rule.

And whenever there’s down time, it’s hard not to wonder if there’s a way to use that down time to make more money.

I had a great excuse: I was broke.

We all have reasons to work excessively. The world will provide reasons for you to feel bad for being idle.

So go ahead. Try it. Be idle.

Sit. Meditate. Don’t check anything. Don’t think of new ways to make money. If you start feeling like you “have” to, recognize that feeling for what it is: Anxiety.

Anxiety loves to parade around as logic. Well, you owe XYZ. You have ABC responsibilities. So of course you need to work more.

Anxiety parades around as logic in lots of ways.

I have to publish this story now, because it’ll get curated now, not later. The stats say so. My past experience says so.

I have to do this now, because if I don’t, someone else will, and they will become rich and famous, and then I’ll beat myself up.

I have to do this now, because if I don’t, someone else’s world will fall apart. So you see, I’m doing this out of selflessness.

If, for some reason, you can never, ever, ever take breaks, and it feels logical to not take breaks, it might not be logic.

Working every minute of every day will not make you a better person.

A better woman.

A better man.

A better employee.

A better entrepreneur.

A better parent.

A better anything.

If you try to take a break, do the negative thoughts begin?

The kind of mental self-hitting?

Calling yourself names, making yourself think unpleasant thoughts as a type of punishment?

Can you exist, as you are, with yourself, without abusing yourself?

Forget about loving yourself for now.

That is a tall order for a lot of people.

Can you just exist without mentally hitting yourself?

Or does every second feel full of trying to prove your worth, monetize your time, or chastising yourself?

Can you exist without shame or self-loathing?

Without working?

You might get an ego boost from working all the time.

You’re different from all these other people. You have something they do not.

But if so many people think this about themselves, then is this really so special?

If you stop to think about it — Is working all the time really what makes you special?

What else makes you special?

What makes you irreplaceable?

Work does not make you irreplaceable. Even CEOs get replaced all the time. Papa John’s replaced Papa John. Jobs can be filled by someone else. They can give you a paycheck, but they cannot tell you who you are.

What makes you special, and has nothing to do with productivity, with money, with “measurable” outcomes?

Can you stop working?

And if you can, who are you when you’re not working?

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Lisa Martens

Written by

Books, articles, tip jar.: https://linktr.ee/lisathewriter 📚 Collab? lisa.snetram@gmail.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Lisa Martens

Written by

Books, articles, tip jar.: https://linktr.ee/lisathewriter 📚 Collab? lisa.snetram@gmail.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

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