You Aren’t Working Too Hard.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Dec 20, 2011
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Chances are, you aren’t working hard enough.












 All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?

People love to complain about work. It’s one of our national pastimes. Too hard. Too boring. Hate the boss. Want a vacation. Whenever I see that axiom about no one on his deathbed wishing he had spent more time working, I wince a little bit. If you are doing work you are passionate about, at the end of your days your response should be somewhere between the satisfaction of a job well done, and a wistful wishing you could have helped just a little bit more.

When I talk with people about work related stress, the amount of time they spend on work is rarely the issue. When people are burnt out on work, generally the problem is one of two things.

1. They don’t love their work.

2. They don’t know what to do when they aren’t working.


“I don’t love my work”

There are two possible ways of dealing with this problem: change your job or change your attitude.

So, maybe it’s time to change your job. While some people can pull a Holstee, drop everything and radically change their lives, it isn’t an immediate option for most people. Taking creative steps to move towards a job you love is possible for everyone. What do you daydream about doing? Where does your mind go when it wanders? Chances are you don’t fantasize about more time to sit around watching television. Connect with people in your community and online who love what you love. Make room in your life for the things that excite you. Want to feel tired and drained? Believe that other popular myth that there’s “not enough time” and let your life slip by doing things that don’t inspire you. Instead, be willing to use your free time take steps towards where you want to be. Positive thinking is good; positive actions are even better.

Or maybe, an attitude adjustment is what you need. If you’ve decided that you need to stay where you are, it’s time to change your attitude. No matter what your job, you have the ability to be of benefit. When you begin to view your work as changing the world, it’s hard not to love it. Even if you are washing dishes in a diner, you are making the world a little bit better. I’ve done a variety of jobs over the years. I’ve loved serving coffee, pouring drinks, teaching dance, shoveling horse manure, proofreading and editing, teaching English, working in customer service during the holidays, and I even once did a long term sub for a junior high gym teacher in an urban school. (That last one was tough to love, but made for many funny stories.) When you see how your job is of service to the world,  it can energize you.


“I don’t know what to do when I’m not working.”

Resting your body at the end of a long day is important. Restoring your mind and spirit through meditation and time spent with loved ones is important. But the truth is, if you want to have a meaningful life, you will be busy. Even when you aren’t doing “work” you will still be busy. We are built to be active–body and mind. If you want to be happy, work hard at something you are passionate about and play hard when you aren’t working.

I didn’t have any “work” I needed to do today. I got up, meditated for a half-hour. Did yoga.Worked on forms for a charity I’m hoping to launch this coming year. Cleaned my house. Researched zoning regulations for a property where I’d like to make an animal sanctuary and checked into a few possible grants. Went grocery shopping. Wrote a short story. Took a wonderful friend out for coffee and laughed for nearly an hour straight. Played with my family. Made some peanut brittle for my dad for Christmas. (I even found some time to read elephant journal and write this post.) And it’s 3 p.m. I still have about seven more hours before I meditate again and pack it in for the night.

I don’t say this to say “Wow…look at all I did today!” I say this because I’m ordinary. It’s Tuesday. I’m average. I’m not wealthy. I also never listen when people tell me I should shoot a little lower. I don’t pay attention when people tell me I can’t do something.

Working hard doesn’t make you tired.

Believing that you should dream smaller; believing that you should be less passionate; believing that you are too small, too poor, or too ordinary to change the world–all those things will exhaust you.

Work-life balance is a popular American myth propagated by those who would sell you a fast-food lifestyle.

“You deserve a break today!”

A break from what? A break from trying to change the world? From realizing your dreams?

A break from being alive?

You deserve to be magnificent.

Don’t waste a single second believing anything less.



About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on and Barnes & She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


15 Responses to “You Aren’t Working Too Hard.”

  1. Andréa Balt says:

    "Work hard at something you are passionate about and play hard when you aren’t working." – My problem is that when I'm passionate about my work I forget to play, feeling that, since I like it so much, I might as well be playing. But it's not play, it's still work. So I end up doing happy work but no play.

    What should I do, guru Kate? 🙂 Make myself play? Unmake myself work? I mean, I guess one needs an incentive. Like when you give a ball to your dog, it makes even more sense to go out and play … When it’s time to play, there should be something in the "play" that outdoes even the most passionate work, I think.

    I'd like to request a Take Two of this article: how to disconnect from the work that you love.

  2. Sharon says:

    This makes so much sense…When I had more of a social life and hobbies to keep me occupied I loved my job and life, but lately I all I do is go to work and back home again and have realized that what I have been missing and I personally need these things present to ward off the negativity that is currently sucking the life out me.

  3. I think I hear your new year's resolution in there somewhere! Thanks for commenting!

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Leigh Okraski so basically, busting your a__ and giving up your dreams to work at something that has no meaning to you is what drains the life out? cool, thats why I ditched a certain "career" in which I had no input, but was just a drone… no one in my life got it at the time, but I knew what I was after… and its not just the all work vs no play thing…. it was about having work in which I had a voice, and had an impact

    Lennie Carbone ‎"Tell me where a man gets his corn pone, and I'll tell you what his "pinions are"–Mark Twain

    Scott de Kuyper I don't know, sounds like a nice recipe for continued slavery to the the 1% to me mixed in with what we already know. We feel helpless and defeated…because for now we are. She must have free healthcare or something…

    Leigh Okraski u talkin bout me? nope, no healthcare, presently…. but my current city says they'll give me free or near free healthcare on the condition that I get pregnant… WTF??? I'd rather finish grad school and try to get myself healthcare legitamately through working than have a family for that reason….

    …or at least, shouldn't they give healthcare to students, especially those who perform well, instead if just to baby factories? ok thats what I'm pissed off about for the day, I'm done… ‎Leigh Okraski you are absolutely right! It isn't the working that drains you, it's the attitude, it's believing that your work (whatever it may be) has a purpose. Billions are spent annually on leisure and entertainment, but people are more stressed out than ever. Work that you believe in, where you have an impact — that will energize you! ~ Kate

  5. I didn't quite understand where Scott (above) was coming from with his comment. My point was empower yourself and find a way to see your purpose no matter what work you are doing. And for the record, I don't have free healthcare!

  6. […] work hard, and am completely absorbed when I’m working. But I also play hard, and try to stay unplugged […]

  7. ang says:

    I disagree. Sometimes it IS the work that drains you…even if it is meaningful work that is changing the world

  8. […] morning before his father leaves for work my two year old, Cayce, builds a fort in a nook he has found between the living room sofa and the […]

  9. […] always skeptical, but I have to tell you, we got through an entire conversation without arguing or trying to prove which of us had a rougher day. I was pleasantly […]

  10. […] you are really not happy at work, maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Work you love should energize you, not make you want to go Kung Fu office supply warrior (although I think if all of us elephants […]

  11. emeliasf says:

    Ya bitch! Right on! (I'm saying that in the most empowering girl power way possible). Invigorating, truth telling, well written and you told me what to do and now I want to do it! You rule Kate! This is the first ever ele post that I will forward.

  12. Thanks back at you! And yeah bitch (I took it in the most empowering girl power way possible for sure!). When are we going to have some more Emelia writings?!

  13. Mariucc says:

    OR – How about the Italians point of view (from Eat, Pray, Love). I love this! (except for the man sleeping with someone else's wife part…lol)
    Luca Spaghetti: "Americans. You work too hard, you get burned out. You come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the T.V."
    Liz: "That's not far off, actually."
    Luca Spaghetti: "But you don't know pleasure. You have to be told you've earned it. You see a commercial that says: 'It's Miller Time!' And you say, That's right, now I'm going to buy a six pack. And then drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn't need to be told. He walks by a sign that says: You deserve a break today. And he says, Yes, I know. That's why I'm planning on taking a break at noon to go over to your house and sleep…with your wife!"

    Giovanni: "We call it "dolce far niente", the sweetness of doing nothing."

  14. Mariucc says:

    I do think the sleeping with wife part was a joke, just in case someone takes offense to that. But it is totally true of Italians (and other cultures I'm sure) that they really do know how to enjoy the little pleasures of life more than Americans. I feel we Americans are always rushing around, producing and achieving, or trying to produce and achieve. I really felt a difference when I went to Italy. I remember seeing some people on a boat, just lying there, floating around, relaxing; no loud music, no beer and getting drunk, just the sheer pleasure of soaking up the sun, gazing at the water, laughing together, etc. etc. Of course some of us can do this, but generally many in our culture just do not know how. I also think what is appropriate as far as how much we do or get done in any given day is totally individual. Some people may be more naturally driven to engage in lot of activity – they really may need this to feed their spirits. Others (like me lol) really need to read, take long periods of time to reflect on myself and life, socialize with friends and family, dance and play often to feed my soul.