What are you devoting, or have you devoted yourself to? Everyone gets 24 hours each day. How do you devote yours?
One definition of devoting is to “concentrate on a particular pursuit, occupation, purpose, cause.” Every day is a new beginning. A chance to devote yourself to a new journey or continue to charter the path you’ve been carving out for years. As humans, we all have one thing in common. While we’re alive, we receive 24 hours in a day. Yet, many of us know all too well it doesn’t quite feel like that many because it isn’t. Let’s break it down. Sleep is important, and the optimal amount of sleep a person should get every night is 8 hours. So boom, right off the bat, you’ve lost a third of your day.
Once you enter adulthood, you long for the much simpler days of being a child. Gone are the days that seemed to last longer, filled with afternoon cartoons, candy, and much less responsibility. Now you could very well spend the moment you get a second to yourself reminiscing on those times. Much of this longing is due to the structure of our society, especially in the United States.
Over the past twenty years, there’s been a rise in productivity culture. For many workers, career success is defined by output, often by any means necessary. Once you’re an adult, you must fend for yourself, and as many of us know, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Your support system may have your back, but hardly anyone else does. Simply put, it’s because your peers want the same career and education you seek and to achieve similar goals as you.
You likely achieve aspirations by how you devote your time. So how do you spend yours? Let’s start with a job. Corporate America tells us 40 hours a week is a sufficient amount of time to spend working. At least, if you want to be considered full-time, which typically means earning benefits, including health, paid time off, etc. Sadly, the distinction of full-time also means earning a decent enough wage to make ends meet for many.
The United States population in 2019 was roughly 330 million. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “a total of 168.6 million persons worked at some point during 2019,” and “the proportion of workers who worked full time, year-round in 2019 was 70.2 percent.” Meaning nearly 51% of all eligible employees worked at some point, with almost 36% of them working full time.
As we look at the number of hours left in the day you have to devote, they begin to dwindle. Studies show much of the population will work full time for a lengthy part of their lives. If you work 8 hours a day and sleep 8 hours a day, it means you’re left with 8 hours to navigate the other areas of life. Among those critical to human well-being are family or community time, emotional health, physical health, and, you guessed it, work environment. After all, you spend ⅓ of your life working. Therefore, you should be very selective about which field or organization you devote your time to.
However, as we look at the former three, the gray area becomes more pronounced. If you’re like me, you spend nearly 2 hours a day on your commute, giving you even less time a day to work with. With only two days off every week primarily taken up by chores and responsibilities like paying bills, grocery shopping, doing laundry, etc., it’s a wonder any personal growth or quality time spent with your family ever gets accomplished. We only have a limited amount of time each day, and many people choose how to spend theirs differently. For some, career success is imperative.
Many of these people spend the little free time they have earning postsecondary professional certificates, doing anything they can to get a leg up over competitors in their sector. Others spin the life wheel and land on money. Whether they want to provide the life they never had for their children or care deeply about material matters, these individuals make a salary their top priority. Many devote themselves to exercise, taking extraordinary measures to set a personal record or play a competitive sport.
While others yearn for emotional growth, devoting their time to becoming more emotionally stable through all facets of life. Some seek academic success, earning multiple degrees, even going as far as having two doctorate degrees and being coined a life student. The point here is that we all devote ourselves to something. But see, this is where things get tricky.
What you become
Our daily devotion should be to something that not only piques our interest but aligns with our moral and ethical values. The reason being, your devotion shapes who you become. It’s like the saying, “you are what you eat.” What you devote your time to is who you become. If you’re not careful, your career focus could be the reason your marriage falls apart. You could jeopardize the relationship between you and your child by spending more time finishing your dissertation than attending their extracurricular activities.
Another example is the modern-day athlete identity crisis. Many athletes spend years perfecting their craft, only to retire from the sport they love one day. Many are lost when this day comes because they never stimulated themselves outside of this one aspect of life. Their identity became associated with a game, not who they were as a person. Thus, putting all of their eggs in one basket, which is never productive.
What you devote yourself to daily is pivotal. It could mean the difference between happiness and lifelong satisfaction or misery. We all want to have and do have different experiences in life, and none are necessarily better than the other. But to me, your life’s work shouldn’t consist of one pursuit, tangibly speaking. It shouldn’t be defined by career or academic success, how much money you made, or lessons you’ve taught. Your life’s work is about the factors of life that matter to you and how you devote yourself to them every day to become a better version of yourself. Devote yourself wisely because what you do is what you’ll become.