Your Work Is Not Your Worth

Heather Nowlin
4 min readMay 13, 2020

Your value does not equal your output.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

I remember when the very most important part of my week had to do with sitting in an office less than six feet away from the guy I directly reported to and listing off all the “work” I had gotten done since the last time we did this.

Those listicles had to do with measuring how engaged people in our shared office were, how active they were on our private/internal communication channels, and how receptive they seemed to the idea that their office was their second family.

I typically spent about 50 hours each week focused on these goals. In other words, I spent fifty hours every week for years doing something other than interacting with my partner of 15 years, or walking my dog. Fifty hours every week not calling my mom, my brother, my nieces or nephews.

Fifty hours wishing I had time to read anything on my massive Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf.

Fifty hours not exercising. Fifty hours in a usually sedentary position, at a desk in an office with no windows, completely unaware, even, of what the weather was like outside.

Fast forward to today… and I can spend all day reading my book if I want to. I talk to my mom, whose memory and cognition is failing — probably due to an entire nurse’s career spent putting other people’s needs before her own, disrupting her sleep schedule, and spending at least 50 hours per week not with her friends, family, or personal pursuits. (Also probably due to her time spent largely in isolation.)

I video chat with nieces and nephews who live in other time zones, because we both have the time for that now. Managing to sync up the time zones around everyone’s schedules? Easy-peasy.

I see my partner every single day, as he’s working from home and I’m unemployed. We plan dinners every night, and cook them together. We’ve grown closer, had long, intimate, satisfying conversations. Probably had more sex.

And I don’t even have to report any of these metrics to anyone.

The first four weeks of this global shutdown we’re all experiencing were, for me, spent basically in abject terror, I’ll admit. My anxiety and depression, which I’ve worked on managing my entire life (or at least since age 10)…

Heather Nowlin

Favorite topics: politics, mental health, travel, business/the office, humans, dogs, empathy, pop culture, movies, books, TV, plays, theatre.