What Makes My Work Meaningful? The Luxury of Having Less

Greetings from Washington, D.C.

Three years ago, when we sold our home I lost my luxurious home office. I remember, when we built it in 1999, how we created a sanctuary for me to work, work, work. My home office was impressively designed and decorated, and, included what a lot of home-based offices back then had: a monstrous whiteboard. For any given point in the calendar year, that whiteboard told the production and revenue story for my recruiting business. And I updated it so often that one of my biggest out-of-pocket expenses was dry markers.

I know that when we got our home ready for sale, the first thing to drop from my office walls was that whiteboard. And, I couldn’t give it away.

Ever since, we have lived in an “experiential” rental community and I could not be happier. I don’t miss the house or the ample square footage. Instead, I’ve found that the one thing that now makes my work meaningful is the luxury of having less.

Nowadays, and wherever I happen to be, everything that I need to get done happens on an Apple MacBook Pro: writing, scheduling, podcast production, and social media efforts occur in lap-sized real estate. I’ve edited podcast episodes on speeding Acela Trains or outside by the community pool on a warm, sunny day. Everything else, including Instagram promotional posts of Tightrope podcast episodes, happens on my iPhone.

In the old days of running a home-based business, luxury meant having a lot of expensive technology and furniture. Now, luxury to me means having a few amazing tech items capable of doing a lot of things. What is more, I prefer having as little furniture as possible.

One of the challenges that I still need to work out, in my new found vision of luxury, is a better travel arrangement for my mobile podcast studio. Early on in my podcasting career, I could fit my mobile studio into a shoulder bag, but no longer can I do that. In early August, when we recorded our Chicago podcast interview sessions with Piece Pizzeria owner Billy Jacobs and our shared lifelong friend Stu Katz, I packed all 65 pounds of my gear into that shoulder bag as carry-on. All seemed fine until we arrived at the TSA station at Dulles Airport. The contents of that shoulder bag had to be separated into so many plastic bins, x-rayed, and then quickly repacked. And there were about 100 frustrated travelers behind us in the queue who weren’t happy with the inconvenience caused.

I will be getting a hard case, soon, to check all that gear: another luxury.

As we approach the Thanksgiving break, I reflect on the bounty of experience that I have enjoyed helping people  connect up with the work of their dreams—meaningful work. I also reflect on my great good fortune as a husband and as a dad of a beautiful and smart first-year college student. With family gathered, we look forward to enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving.

For me, having lots of things is no longer a luxury. Having lots of things is a burden. However, having wonderful people in my life, both human and canine, are my true luxury.

With a lighter load on our shoulders, I know that our best days lie ahead.

Catch up on past episodes of The Tightrope with Dan Smolen Podcast. Find us on Apple PodcastStitcher, on our website, or wherever you get your podcasts. STREAMING NOW: Career coach and “Queen of the Millennials” Nicole Rousseau explains how she helps companies embrace Millennials who now comprise the largest part of the American workforce. Listen HERE.

DAN SMOLEN is founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC. He is also the executive producer and host of The Tightrope Meaningful Work Podcast.  Please comment here to let us know how we are doing, and, to offer suggestions for future guests and topics.

Photo credit: MacBook and office manager, Dan Smolen.