Work Must Define You
May 20, 2015

Work Must Define You

by Brian de Haaff

Work has gotten a bad rap lately. It has earned the reputation as a necessary evil that you must be miserable doing. Many people say that you must maintain an equilibrium between work and the rest of your life. Yes, work is important to pay the bills. But work and life are not mutually exclusive.

The expression that work must not define you is of the same ilk of “achieving work-life balance.” Both expressions have weaseled their way into our vernacular in the last 20 years and caused more harm than good.

Finding that perfect state of harmony between work and life is a lie because it is not sustainable. You may find moments of this balance, but what happens when something throws off that equilibrium?

I believe the opposite is true. Work defines you, whether you think it does or not.

There should be no dividing line between work and the rest of your life. Work is life and life is work. Our lives are defined by the effort that we put in it. We have already built a few successful companies around this principle, including now at Aha!

When you operate from the framework that work must define you, you start thinking about work in a new way. You start to:

Live actively You never know how many days you have, so start living that way. This creates a sense of urgency and wanting to be present in every moment. Do not waste your time. You will never get that time back.

Work, work, work I often like to say, “This one first, that one free.” That means that when you work very hard, you will often be surprised by the fruit that your initial effort continues to bear. Hard work pays and pays and generates secondary opportunities.

Consider your legacy With your work, you will make a difference. That will be positive or negative. At the end of your life, you will likely hope to be remembered as making a real contribution. Right? You will not be pleased if you just watched your time slip away. What legacy will your work leave?

It is time that work once again assumes its rightful place. Work is good. Work is hard.

When you start thinking about work in this new way, it will transform how you order your days.

How is work defining you?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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