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If Work Is Suffering, You Might Want to Audit Your Life

It was the spring of 2016, and I was working for a small and nimble company. I enjoyed the product and the people were cool, but after eight years in little Denmark, I was craving to step on a bigger stage. So I took a big leap forward and moved to London hoping that it will advance my career. And boy did it do exactly that. But it also quickly became apparent that expensive rents, company politics, and not seeing the sun for months at a time might not be my cup of tea. Go figure…

My closest friends know I was never truly happy there, so I exchanged the privilege of being in close proximity to the Queen for the privilege of running my own design practice from Bali. After two months of being here, my life quality has improved; I expected that. But more surprisingly, the quality of my work has improved as well.

I recently worked on launching a new product with a brilliant London-based researcher, and looking back at the project I’ve realised how much more creative I am, how much faster I work, and how many ideas just flow out of nowhere. I am more often in a deep state of focus, and when I’m not making progress, I take two hours to surf, work out, or get a massage, and come back to it. Or I cut my day short to see the sunset over the ocean and work longer the day after. In the end, my work is of higher quality than ever before, which is good for both me and my clients.

My life has changed completely in these past two months. I am more relaxed, I have almost no commute, I spend more time under the sun, I decide my own schedule, I’m not pressured by high costs of living, I sleep more, I work out when I want to, I eat healthier, and I have a better social life. Lacking all of these in London took a toll on me and in hindsight, on my work as well.

I’m not saying everyone should quit the rat race and move to a tropical island. It’s not a life for everyone, and it comes with its own challenges – my family is 9.000km away after all and work is much harder to come by. What I’m recommending is to deploy some self-empathy and find out what is making you miserable. My theory is that if the passion for your job has disappeared, or if the quality of your work is suffering, it has little to do with the work itself. Instead, you’ll find the answer by auditing the rest of your life.