Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Really, Really Hard Work

By Peter Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 07, 2009

When I was trying to get my business off the ground, I would work really long hours to make sure that everything got done. For several years, I worked 60-70 hour weeks on average--some weeks more. Thank goodness, since the first year of my marriage I have never had a commute longer than 25 minutes (now I live near my office, and have a 5-10 minute commute).

Working a schedule like this places a strain on most of your relationships, particularly if you are young and trying to figure out how to be a good spouse and parent--as I was.  I learned many lessons the hard way, caused a lot of damage, and had to mend a lot of fences. I was tired, I was impatient, I was angry. I bent just about as far as I could without breaking.

For those who are in similar circumstances, I offer a few words of advice.

(1) Don't kid yourself--prayer is important even for the working man (or woman) doing important things and trying to support a family. Frustrated as you might be with repetitious, formulaic prayer and tired as you might be with saying the same things to God over and over again--don't quit. Find a way to change things up.

(2) Exercise is important. For one thing, you will find prayer easier if you exercise. Even if you don't exercise for any other reason, exercise so you can pray. Don't exercise with the radio or the TV on. Let your mind wander over the day's problems while you move your body, and talk to God about them. Sometimes releasing your anger is a way of releasing pent up energy. No matter how much you feel like sitting in front of the TV and vegetating--don't. Get your tired rear in gear and whip out a walk around the block or a hundred jumping jacks. Make it happen.

It is all too easy to get into vicious work cycles, where you are so tired that you no longer realize when you have reached "the point of diminishing returns". How many times have you worked on something late into the evening for hours, only to solve the problem in 15 minutes the next morning? Rest, exercise and prayer all bring perspective. Time away brings objectivity.

It can be difficult, when working so hard, to listen to others. When you become defined by your work, it is very difficult to hear someone tell you that you shouldn't be working so hard, or that you need to take more time for prayer, for family, for exercise. You'll think that they just don't get it. They can't understand why you need to do the things that you do.

And maybe you do have to do those things. Maybe there isn't another way. But that doesn't excuse lack of prayer. It doesn't excuse uncharitable behavior. It doesn't excuse myopia or insularity. It doesn't excuse striking out in anger. You have to figure out a way to make it work, and that includes giving God a chance to lend a hand.

Shut off the television, cut the excuses, get some exercise...and pray.

Peter Mirus is a business, marketing, and technology consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with companies and nonprofits, ranging from start-ups to large international organizations. From 2004-2014 he contributed articles on the Catholic Faith, culture, and business to the website.
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  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2009 3:53 PM ET USA

    Simple exercise helps many things - I was diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder in 2008 after many years' fruitless treatment for clinical depression. While I was advised that medication was likely to be with me for the rest of my life, I was also told that the most important treatment would cost me nothing. I know that I must exercise every day. This is not, foe me, optional. I must do it if I am to give myself a fighting chance of remaining well and allow the pharmaceuticals to do their job.