Imagine making your home at the office, waking up in the morning on a couch in the place you do business, where you greet other people who awaken where they work and live too. You go to the restroom down the hall to rinse your face and use the stall to relieve yourself. You return to the break room, make coffee. Then, back to the office to read your one-minute motivational material from a pocket-sized book of promises, while eating yogurt, fruit, and granola in the room where you slept.
Afterwards, you move on to standing and stretching to maintain your health and get fit for the day—in the clothes you slept in. You then go back to the restroom to sneak a cigarette and check the mirror to convince yourself that others will see you as prepped, onboard, all-in, motivated, ready to lead or follow and most of all, as an example that will keep you on the highest approval list that somebody keeps somewhere.
Next, you move into the workday early and ready because you are that one everyone can depend on to show up and get it done. You are prepared for and active in your wonderful day, getting to perform the duties that give your life worth, meaning, and a paycheck. The worth is your work. The meaning, you tell yourself, is adding to the betterment of others and taking care of your family. The paycheck is for making life better for the family, and to be able to buy that “thing” you are going to get, or that vacation you’ll someday take when you are not at the office so much.
When that day comes, you will be able to spend the time you always dreamed about with those people you did all this work for since you see yourself as doing everything you are doing for “them.” Secretly, deep down, you know that you are doing all these things for you.
The closest you get to expressing your own sensitivity to your needs is when you expect those people you are doing all this stuff for to appreciate you being gone all the time, doing all this stuff for them. And when you dare to communicate this seemingly logical concept, they look at you confused or ashamed because they don’t understand the sentence either. The confusion and lack of understanding just makes you stay at the office longer because that is where you matter, where you are understood, and appreciated, even revered—by not ever being your true self.
The truth is that living in your head is just another office, the place where you figure things out, schedule, organize, plan action, and interact with others for a purpose with an intended result in mind. At the office, your performance dictates your position. The office is the place where your worth is measured by your performance, and you hold your position if you continue to earn your place.
Your heart, however, is your home, the place where you struggle with and share your most private, joyful dreams. It is the place where you have value because of love, where you can be yourself, and don’t have to be “on” all the time. The home of the heart is also the place where you will struggle more mightily than anywhere else because it is the place of being completely known. Therefore, the heart is the place of vulnerability, struggle, delight, and needs, where your worth is a given and your presence is needed, and ultimately, rewarded.
A lot of people attempt to make their homes at the office or turn their homes into an office. It seems so much easier and more logical than the struggles of home, i.e., the struggles of the heart. But the results of making your office your home have marginal diminishing returns for life fulfillment. Your heart is your home; your office is the place you go to work, so you can get back home.
Your office, your work, your worth cannot be the same. Your office is your head. Your heart is your home. If I let my office lead me, I will leave my self and the people I love behind, and then somehow expect compensation—to be appreciated for the reason I was never really with them, never really knew them, and never really allowed myself to be with them.
We need to continue waking up and going home to who we are made to be, so we can do what we are made to do. Starting from home, the heart, we find our full lives that allow us to love deeply and lead well.
One of the things, for certain, that you and I are created to do is keep the covenant we made with the people we say we love. You will never say on your deathbed or at your loved one’s deathbed that you wished you had spent more time at the office. Wake up; go home. Only people who know you from home will ever really remember you. And they will remember how much you were present in heart. Go home to who you are created to be, and offer your heart to your loved ones. Then, go to work.
Chip Dodd, PhD, is a teacher, trainer, author, and counselor, who has been working in the field of recovery and redemption for over 30 years. With his clinical experience, love of storytelling, and passion for living fully, Chip developed a way of seeing and expressing one’s internal experience called the Spiritual Root System™. To read more from Chip, visit his blog, or check out his books.