Life Opportunity #2: Work Well

I recently spoke to a group of young adults (and their teachers/family/friends) at their high school graduation. I’ve written before about Bronnie Ware’s The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

These themes are also echoed within the walls of our therapy offices at Bergen and Associates every day, and whispered to each other in The Daring Way™ groups that I offer regularly. And I thought to myself…”What if, instead of uttering these regrets on their death beds decades from now, these students would be able to proactively address these concerns as opportunities starting now, at the beginning of their adult lives. What if, they–and maybe others too–would shape their lives so as to avoid these end-of-life regrets?”

So…I gave my take on each of the 5 regrets turned 5 opportunities. Join us to consider proactively living the life that aligns with the one you want to live? A 5 part series, from the talk, adjusted for a wider audience. With thanx to Bronnie Ware

Opportunity #2

I will choose to place priority on relationships. I will work hard for the right reasons.

In Bronnie Ware’s book, the expressed regret is: “I wished I hadn’t worked so hard.” Every person struggles with the deeply held fear that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.  So we invest in a search for  worthiness in different ways.

Exhaustion has become something to brag about in our culture, as we work to prove our value by our performance in our employment, our volunteer pursuits, by how clean we keep our house, by how perfect our term papers are.

Let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth. Quote by Brene Brown. Poster by Bergen and Associates Counselling in Winnipeg

Many of us believe that if we look perfect enough, act perfect enough, do perfect enough work, then we’ll feel worthy of love and belonging. But when it doesn’t work, rather than figuring out that this strategy to feeling loved doesn’t work, we work harder to be more perfect…and the very thing that’s designed to help us, wears us down and wears us out.

We all run the danger of working too hard, spending too much, or partying too hard to impress our friends as ways to prove our value. We forget that our value is not determined by what we do, but rather by who we are.

Working as a way to prove one’s worth, which so many do (completely unconsciously, by the way) is counterfeit. It looks like it might work…but it doesn’t.

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The folks that say, “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” are realizing that connections and meaningful relationships are how they will evaluate the quality of their lives.

Being accepted and valued for who we are, and engaging with others with joy, laughter, tears, and real dialogue that is meaningful and life-giving is what gives mean and purpose to life.

Do work hard.

…but work hard from a position of healthy striving…

…because to work hard feels good. Work hard because you choose to, as a matter of integrity, from a place of aligning with your values internally, rather than working hard to get external validation from others that you are “good enough”.

Work hard because it feels good to bring home a hard earned dollar at the end of the day to provide for yourself and your family, because your efforts make a difference in the world. The bread is baked, the fires are extinguished, the furniture is created, the cathedral is built.

Work hard for your shift…and then go home and don’t work, but be.  Be with your family, your friends, your community.

Dare to have the audacity to know that you have worth beyond measure, and let that shape your work life.



**Check out Opportunity #1, and come back for Opportunities #3-5 🙂

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