Work isn’t worth it.

A case for caring more about relationships than career.

“That John Denver is full of (it).” | Lloyd, Dumb & Dumber


I’m a recovering workaholic.

When I say workaholic, I don’t necessarily mean the kind that works 100 hr weeks. I mean the kind that has made decisions for most of my adult life entirely based on how it affects my work & income – often times not considering far more meaningful areas of life. In other words, my priorities have been dominated by my career.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that promotes this way of life. It tells us that if we want to be successful at something, we must make that thing our deepest passion and top priority – regardless of the cost.

“He succeeded because he chose a definite goal, placed all of his energy, all of his will power, all of his effort, everything back of this goal. He stood by it until it became the dominating obsession of his life, burning all bridges behind him.”  | Napolean Hill

I think we’ve missed the point. And I believe we have enough proof of that via society’s most successful and their deathbed regrets of chasing career at the cost of relationships.

The good news is that we don’t have to quit our jobs, move to a hippie commune and stop eating meat to find a meaningful life. It’s actually more about re-evaluating our priorities.

If we were to prioritize our spirituality & relationships above our work, we can not only still be successful in our careers, but our relationships can become the greatest assets to our professional pursuits.

The ROI of Spirituality.

Often times we try to define our lives in compartments, which causes us to resort to the idea of work-life balance.

However, Jesus understood that life is actually more about the sequence of our priorities than about the balance of our compartments.

“Make your connection to God the most important thing in life, and all the other needs of life will be given to you.” | Matthew 6:33

Have you ever felt commissioned by God to do, or just the pleasure of God in, what you do everyday? Prioritizing this place with God seems to lift us from a rat-race – must stay on top – must get ahead – mentality to work feeling more like a partnership with the Divine. It’s incredible. And this phenomenon goes to show that when spirituality is given its rightful place in our priorities, it becomes THE greatest asset to our work life.

Spouses Become Advocates.

“The gains that a spouse will feel on both a spiritual and MATERIAL level defy description, once they make their marriage first place.” – Rabbi Shalom Arush

This statement from the Rabbi is directed at a young workaholic husband and it haunted me until I decided to experiment with the idea in my marriage. (Read more about the experiment and it’s findings here)

After 31 days of intentionally making my wife feel more important to me than my work, I had a spreadsheet of ironic data proving that the more I made my wife feel like a priority, the more every other area of my life benefited. Particularly, my career.

More so, my wife went from a place of subconsciously competing with my work for my attention to being my biggest champion in my work. I observed both my productivity and income spike as the closest person in my life became my biggest advocate in my career.

When marriage is given it’s rightful place in our priorities, it can – in fact – be an incredible asset to our professional pursuits.

True Friendship Reciprocates.

A few weeks ago, I sat across the table from a friend that gets paid a lot of money to take people’s pictures. We were discussing the beauty of generosity and how even when you expect nothing in return, it always finds a way to return to you.

Before the conversation was over, he was able to trace 90% of his current client base to favors that he had done for friends expecting nothing in return.

A week later I was celebrating a career win over coffee with a close friend of mine. He was an independent musician that had chosen to release his first full length album with no label, management, or team around him. The day before our coffee, his album had hit #8 on iTunes and he had already been invited to play twice as many national and international dates as he ever had before.

During the course of our conversation, he was able to trace the roots of his recent momentum back to favors 6 friends did for him in the last 6 months. One friend gave him discounted production rates. Another, introduced him to a large streaming service online. Another, shot his album cover for free. Another offered free marketing consulting for to album launch. Another handed over their PR relationships to help.

My musician friend intentionally invested into real friendship with these individuals expecting nothing in return. Turns out, what he got was a huge career launch.

In the end, we all know work is important. And by no means am I trying to build a case against diligence and intentionality in our professional pursuits. However, we all also know our propensity to overvalue work often at the cost of undervaluing far more meaningful parts of our lives. I simply think it’s time we re-evaluate.

I’m done with my soapbox now. But there’s something life altering here and it’s much bigger than my three thoughts. Help me build the case for a more intelligent priority framework. What are some ways you’ve seen prioritizing your spirituality and/or relationships over your work actually help your career? Comment, FB msg or email me.

  • chance

    You’re on to something here, Tyler. Underneath your thought lies the concept of serving your way to success or greatness. It’s not just relationship because we benefit even in that exchange, even if we can’t point to money in our pocket…But when we inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others, we get it back every time.

    Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap…Not just frilly words. It’s a promise from God Himself.

    I love this post – and I believe this thought is the true key to our advancement, both spiritually and professionally.

  • Paul Edward Ralph

    Here’s my two cents worth (when adjusted for inflation, taxation and currency exchange ($CDN-$US) is approximately one point six seven). Marriage shouldn’t be you VS me. It should be the both of us VS the distractions, whatever they may be. PER

  • Payton

    Great insight. Thanks for sharing!

  • tyler ward

    Great thoughts, as always, PER.

  • tyler ward

    @chancescoggins:disqus: “when we inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others, we get it back every time.” I love this.

    My hope with a thread of thought like this one is to offer more than an invitation to serve. It’s to brand a generous way of life as not just meaningful but beneficial. I’d love to pull more on the thread to see if it all actual plays out as beneficial.


  • tyler ward

    @pauledwardralph:disqus: And definitely the next level of thought. I love it.

  • tyler ward

    Thanks for tuning in @3acea6082ced1612c0d069445c60af4d:disqus…

  • chance

    Yes – I wasn’t meaning to limit your thought – just pointing out an important implication some of us would miss.

    We’ve been talking about this today since I read your post. So good and important…YES, I agree. Service reaches far beyond meaningful to beneficial. Jennifer and I have absolutely seen this to be true in our lives. We’re actually experiencing it in our lives even now. Will chime in after some other people have a chance to speak. :)

  • Jessica Garcia

    I remember back in college, during my busiest and most challenging quarter, I made the decision to commit to a church, join a small group and dedicate more of my time to seeking after God. In this time I developed a devotional life and for the first time ever, I could honestly say that I felt close to God. I had craved it for so long, but never committed to it. Despite all the work I had on my plate, I got the best grades in my entire college career that quarter! I didn’t study or stress out as much as I usually did, either! I’m so glad I learned that making my relationship with God a priority is a gift in itself but also has so many benefits! :)

  • Jamie Achten

    Hey Tyler- Wonderful article. Is there a way you can add a “share via email” button sometime? That would be great!

  • tyler ward

    @disqus_H6gXz70UZM:disqus: Perfect example! Thanks Jessica.

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