Where You Come To Work From

The guidelines and boundaries I had recently found have been helpful for the most part. But something happened last week where they didn’t come enough.

For the new mindfulness courses I wanted to announce, I was faced with the task of setting up Facebook Ads Manager. I had an irrational fear about Ads Manager. I got anxiety from just looking at its interface. It felt evil, strange and unknown. It felt like uncharted territory, and I didn’t want to explore it. My big effort throughout last week was to keep opening the interface, keep experimenting with campaigns and keep reading about it even if I was anxious.

Expectedly, the anxiety carried over. I found myself thinking about Ads Manager before I went to sleep, when I woke up in the morning, when talking with friends. Listening to all this, my partner told me, “You seem to be scared of Ads Manager. It is just a stupid ad tool after all. You are smart, and you can figure it out. It’s problem solving! It’s fun!”

My first reaction was “Of course you’d think Ads Manager is fun. You like work all the time.” Then, I was reminded I have a choice. In any moment of work, in the face of ease and in the face of fears, I have a choice of where I’m coming from.

Am I coming from a place of rules, fatigue, stress, anxiety, fear, obligation? Or am I coming from a place of flow, energy, fun, exploration, curiosity, creation, service, meaning?

The next time I sat in front of Ads Manager, I experimented. I decided to remember it’s a stupid ad tool, and I decided to remember I could figure it out too if so many people out there could figure it out. I decided to remember it could be a lot of fun to figure out stupid tools, especially when they will get me to teach mindfulness to more people (an intrinsically rewarding and meaningful thing).

And it worked.

The rest of the week that evil, strange, unknown interface turned into a play or a puzzle. The few moments when I got stressed again, I noticed it, and I was able to bring myself back into a mindset of fun discovery. I was giving permission to Ads Manager, instead of the other way around, and it stopped consuming me. I was able to turn it off, mentally, when I was done with it for the day.

So I came to a conclusion I had come to many times before: If you’re coming from a place of fun, exploration, creation, service, meaning, then you can work whenever you want, for however long you want, because it will ADD to you, not SUBTRACT.

In the world of flexible and autonomous work, which is the world I chose, the real boundary of work is this question of where am I coming to work from, moment to moment. In this way, the same work could be fun and could be disgusting, and containing work is a task of continuous discernment. It is a constant mindfulness practice that teaches us about our inner depths and attitudes. It is more than simply saying “No work on Sundays.”

Continue reading this series: I Should Work, I Shouldn’t Work

Go back to the start: Containing Work When Working For Yourself