As an executive coach, I hear all kinds of things. The other day, one of my clients -- a prominent leader in his field, who travels constantly for business -- sighed wearily and said, "I just want to go home."
Most of us spend the better part of our waking hours on work in one way or another, be it at our jobs, driving to our jobs, traveling for our jobs or sometimes seemingly living at our jobs. Work has, in a way, become our home and for some, it can be unsettling.
This can make us feel uprooted or homeless and often takes the form of making us feel exhausted and depressed. These feelings make us feel extremely stressed and weary -- tired of hassles and hustling.
It hasn't always been this way, even for very successful people. The way we do business has changed, the origins of many of these feelings lie in those changes.
We spend our time and energy in a place where we can never be sure what will happen next--downsizing, reengineering, flattening and reinventing, outsourcing, competition, conflict, pressure.
It seems the world is never still. We're always looking over our shoulder and reminding ourselves to stay on top of our game, because business is not what it used to be. But whether we're constantly on the go or just constantly in meetings, it can feel like we're starving ourselves of something vital.
And too often we settle for security rather than meaning. And so the unsettling feeling never fades, and we never feel quite at home.
Many of the leaders I coach talk of their ongoing journey toward home. What they mean is not finding a house or a neighborhood, but fulfillment of a set of needs: To work with good people who share a sense of mission. To enjoy the company of friends and enduring connections with loved ones. To feel fulfilled, creative, trusted, secure. To remember who we are and what we are made of.
We all need a place where we can feel safe and nourished, a place we can call home.
Living apart from such a place challenges our beliefs, actions and values every day. It's a test of our commitment and endurance.
The things we're feeling are urging us to activate our heart, discover our purpose, reach for deeper meaning.
Do you want to spend countless hours doing work that fails to nourish you, or do you want to look around and do something that can make a difference?
Do you want to discover you have a serious illness caused by stress and exhaustion, or do you want feel healthy and do something that brings meaning to your life?
Do you want to look back and think I have not been home for more than 10 days in four months, or be connected with your loved ones?
If you are feeling a sense of disconnection and absence from something that feels like home, know that the feeling is urging you to look inward and make a change.
This is not an individual crisis, but one that extends to the cultures and well-being of our organizations and affects all those who work there. Individually and organizationally, we need to find a place we can inhabit.
It's time to go home. And you don't have to search far and wide to find it. Just remember where it is -- it's where your heart is.