What do you want written on your tombstone?

How often do we read that when we look back on our lives, we will never wish that our tombstones read: “I wish that I’d worked more.”

Yet I’ve grown quite comfortable and certain in saying that there are some who not only want that, but need that.

We try to help because we believe in taking control of our lives – personally and professionally, thus we expel experiences, stories and accounts of how they, too, can do this.

We offer up our wisdom and skills on how to manage time, energy and resources – yet the person never seems to make that work. They consistently find a reason or share a story – which is really an excuse – of why they are underwater and overwhelmed.

We presume that they have no clue how to prioritize what’s important in life and we are so eager to help because that’s what we need to believe, when the reality is – they have no desire to.

The stress and chaos that seems to constantly surround them is a need – not a circumstantial incident – and they wouldn’t know how to let go of that because they perpetuate, feed into and encourage it.

“I am the center of this universe – so vital, so important, so needed. Chaos makes me feel alive. Drama engages me. Being miserable is who I am.” 

Maybe it does make them feel alive, capable and in control.  Maybe they need that drama to rely on, hide behind and evoke a sense of importance.  The world cannot go on without them.

All the while, they are pushing away those who truly want and need them. They are putting the brakes on relationships – familial, romantic and social – that could feed their needs if they only shifted their perspective.

These people would rather tend to the wants, needs and demands of virtual strangers than be there for those who have made it explicitly clear that they are needed and wanted more close to home.

We can judge and make educated guesses. We can plaster our mind with whatever flowery thoughts we choose to select. We can make excuses, rationalize and debate within ourselves. 

Yet the reality is – the person that consistently pushes you aside for work or his/her personal needs, cares about him/herself – not you.

You do not want to hear that, admit or acknowledge that – but give yourself the benefit of the doubt.  Give yourself what you’re always giving them. 

They may toss you a crumb, invest just enough to keep you around, but – it’s all about them.

It’s not up to us to understand the why – but it is up to us, to acknowledge it and decide where we want to go from there.  Do these people actually add to, or detract from our lives?

I’m forced to recall the many years that work took center stage in my own life. It was built upon insecurity, instability and fear.

The passion and desire was limitless, but the insatiable desire to succeed was relentless.  Not to prove anything to others – only to myself.

I missed family milestones, weddings, funerals and other occasions because I was fearful that I would lose my job. I was new to corporate and because of my personal history and professional conscientiousness, I felt that I had to be there and available 24/7.

I subconsciously felt that nothing could go on without me. Ha!  Trust me, we are not as vital as we think we are. Only to those who love and support us, those who are closest to us that we may be pushing away.  

Awards and accolades – I have collected a few, but I have missed out on more.

Yet at the end of the day, I have learned to measure what is most important – because I choose to make it important.

“Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”

This is the best advice I have ever received and apply to every aspect of my life. The friend who spoke these words will be recognized and if you’re reading, you know who you are.

There are those who use work as an excuse – and those who never reveal how hard they work off hours, behind the scenes, and tirelessly to make loved ones feel special. Those loved one’s never see the blood sweat and tears that get poured into making it seem effortless.

I get my work done so that I can enjoy my family and friends. I work late into the night and before the crack of dawn  because I never want them to feel slighted.  I prioritize what takes precedence in my life – and it is family and friends as well as work.  With discipline, time management and focus, you can have it all.

If you’re hiding behind your workload, sleep with your work and stop looking for more.

People who love you deserve more – they deserve you, your presence and your time.  If you’re not willing to invest in them, only showing up on occasion or making commitments and promises that you never keep, work more and let your family and friends go.

Excuses are lame.  Excuses are actually a coy way of doing what you want because you want to do it.

We make choices in life. Choose wisely.  

Author: E.M. Murphy

A freelance writer, coach, eternal seeker and Renaissance soul who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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