Cultivating Work With True Heart & Meaning (AKA: How To Avoid Unhealthy Workism)

The article, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable,” made me think hard about work. After pondering it for a couple of weeks here are some thoughts:

I deeply believe that in order to find happiness & meaning in work one needs to clearly define a personal mission & make sure one’s weekly work aligns with that mission. Otherwise work is just a paycheck and there are millions of ways to make money. 

If your inner world is undefined, your outer world will be undefined & meaningless. 
And humans by default almost always strive for “more”—money, work, things, tv, social media, etc. even when it's detrimental to health & balance in one's life and even when it's meaningless. 

Again, an undefined personal life purpose leads to a life of drift & personal detriment.

I also firmly believe that balance is achieved by opposing muscles of different life areas pulling against one another. This is how you balance in a challenging yoga pose, this is how you balance a challenging life. Therefore strong work muscles must be counterbalanced by strong rejuvenation muscles.

The awesome thing about many workplaces these days, at least the ones Oh My Green has the pleasure to serve, is that they have awesome world-changing missions AND high fidelity rejuvenation built into their daily/weekly culture. This includes healthy/delicious snacks & catering, meditation, yoga & even life/career coaching so that each individual is empowered to live healthfully and empowered to define/live their purpose & values.

Furthermore, all of our customers realize that their people are their most valuable asset and by not only providing for them, but actually empowering them with their personal development they are paving the way to a place where work can be fun, fulfilling & balanced with the rest of the equally important aspects of their life including family, hobbies, physical fitness, traveling, learning, spiritual growth and all the other awesome aspects of the good life.

When I step back and look at the possibilities provided to the people at the companies we work with every week I am amazed at just how much personal care & personal development is provided. Nonetheless, we all must take it upon ourself to actually utilize these resources & build our own version of an empowered life.

So, what if you are suffering from “Workism”? What can you do? Here are 4 ways you can alchemize your work/life:

  • Discover & develop your personal mission. Then make sure this aligns with your company’s mission or find a new company that does align with it. [Here’s a short article with resources for discovering/developing your mission.]

  • Define your personal values and make sure your company respects them (or find one that does). When you consciously know what values create heart & meaning in your life and your work is aligned with them defaulting to unhealthy workism will be a rare occasion.

  • Take a vacation from work. Sign off completely. Put up an email autoresponder. Don’t fucking read a single email or take work calls during your vacation. I’m dead serious. If you are so burnt out from work you can barely think it’s going to be pretty hard to discover or develop your personal mission or reflect on your values. Often times we need to create space and/or inner silence to be able to hear our Spirit or Higher Self’s guidance on our next steps.

  • Get your financial house in order. If you can’t even afford to take a break or risk looking for a new job that actually aligns with your mission & values you’ve become a slave to your job, money has become your master and workism will be your religion. [Here is an article about me facing my own money darkness & here is a progress report on my personal finances from last year.]

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life & your work-life! Even at my own company which has a super powerful mission and lots of empowering life-enhancing benefits, generous PTO, & flexible work arrangements I see plenty of employees getting CRUSHED by workism. I personally tell everyone I can that our mission of “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives” will NOT be personally served up on a silver platter. Each one of us will have to actively work each day and week to create our personal version of health & bliss. That means setting & holding boundaries around one’s schedule/workload, actively scheduling time off for rejuvenation, and actually taking advantage of all the benefits offered. I believe this holds true for all the tens of thousands of employees we serve at offices across the nation. No company will do all the work of creating a work/life filled with heart, meaning & balance—that is our personal responsibility.

Taking action on any one of these 5 steps will catalyze you towards a life really worth living for! In truth, taking action & taking responsibility really does cure most things. No one can do it for you. Like they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Don’t be that horse.


  • Special thanks to our Oh My Green CEO, Michael Heinrich, for sharing the “Workism” article in our company newsletter that spawned this blog post. You continue to be an incredibly empowering leader, mentor & best friend.

  • Additional deep thanks to Derek Thompson for writing the article and making me think so hard about my own work/life, my company, & the companies we serve.

  • Title photo by my dear friend & uber-talented photographer Noelle Johnson.

If Instagram is more your pace:

The Joy of Purposeful Work

Whether it’s putting in solid work for my company Oh My Green, working on closing a new exciting deal, or working on a creative project for Alchemize Life there is just so much joy & satisfaction to be found in the journey & process backed by an authentic purpose.

Old me used to be purposeless & so focused on reaching some self-centered specific goal that I would be completely unaware of all the awesomeness that was abundantly surrounding me throughout the entire process of reaching the goal. This purely self-centered focus on the end goal sabotaged my happiness. I had a limiting belief that until I reached the goal I wasn’t good enough & I could not be happy. Even after goal completion, happiness was fleeting as a new goal arose.

Now I realize two important factors: (1) we must have a purpose greater than ourselves & (2) when we have a strong personal mission the process becomes the prize. Putting in good work is a gift. There is boundless fruit in the labor when we approach it with the right mindset.

Once I developed my personal mission of “empowering people to transform” I finally had a mindset that made all work joyful & gratifying as long as it was in line with my mission.

With a strong purpose, all work becomes similar to a super amped sweaty physical workout. You know it’s hard, but going hard is fun, exhilarating & damn satisfying!

With that in mind, I strive for all my work to be purposeful & filled with meaning. And when you live a life on purpose filled with meaning... happiness & satisfaction is a natural byproduct!

So if you find yourself dreading work, unhappy & unfulfilled it may be time to develop a personal mission. If you don’t know what your personal mission is then YOUR MISSION IS TO DISCOVER & DEVELOP YOUR MISSION! This is truly one of the most awesome missions as it empowers you to use everything & all work to explore & refine your purpose. If you accept this mission you will embark on one of the greatest adventures of your life—self-discovery!

And if you already have a strong mission then I’m preaching to the choir. Like me, you probably love putting in the work just as much, if not more, than crushing the goals!

If you have a mission & feel like sharing it in the comments please do so! It is always inspiring for myself & others to hear all the awesomeness people are up to in this world!


  1. This post was originally an Instagram Post last week, but I thought it was quite fitting to republish on LinkedIn. Give me a follow on IG @justindavidcarl if you would like to be inspired with daily stories of #mindset #motivation #entrepreneurship #fitness & much more!

  2. Some good resources for developing a personal mission: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Living Forward by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy, The Fire Starter Conversations by Danielle LaPorte.

More empowering creative work from my Instagram:

Rebel With A Cause: How To Meet Internal & External Expectations & Build Good Habits When You Resist Everything

In short, it has been god awful frustrating.

All my life I've struggled against internal and external expectations never really understanding when and why I would meet resistance.

This includes simple & complex expectations as well as habits (exercise, family obligations, work tasks, all types of personal & professional goals, etc.)

Some of the times I encounter little to no resistance. Other times massive resistance despite knowing that meeting the expectation would be awesome for me and my life.

I didn't understand why sometimes it was easy and other times incredibly difficult (even when the expectation itself was fairly easy).

It's been like having a super powerful machine that only turns on sometimes. When it turns on it is incredibly efficient, diligent, and reliable. However, it only turns on sometimes no matter how I hard I "try." 

For some things, like exercising regularly, I have basically zero resistance and it is incredibly easy for me to do this every week with an almost fanatical zeal. This holds true for me whether the expectation comes from within myself or from an an outsider (people, society, etc.).

Yet, other things, like doing my taxes on time or early have been incredibly difficult. This is despite consciously knowing that it is in my best interest to get them done on time at the least.

I've often been bewildered by fact that I am so diligent with exercise, something many find difficult to stick to, and yet I still run into resistance for other things many would consider much easier than regular exercise.

Along the same vein, for the longest time I could not understand why I resisted great suggestions from my partner, family, and friends. A prime example of this is journaling. I always secretly wanted to be a writer. And yet I resisted my mother, partner, teachers, books, etc. until finally I began at the beginning of 2014 (more on that here).

I've run into similar issues with my own good ideas for myself in all areas of life.

If it is my idea I found that I have at least a 50% chance of following through on it. This is a rough estimate.

If the idea was suggested by someone else in the frame of "you should do _______" my internal resistance flairs up immediately most of the time and the chances of me meeting the external expectation go down a lot.  

I often resist whether someone tells me to do something or kindly suggests it.

Yet, sometimes someone makes a great suggestion and I immediately implement it.

Like I said before. Ridiculously frustrating.

I can't even imagine how annoying that has been for the people in my life. Especially my Mom and significant other.

Despite how frustrating it must be for others I always felt like my Mom did an amazing job parenting me. She gave me a ton of freedom and created an environment where I could truly thrive through my own self-direction. With the freedom there were reasonable boundaries that I had no trouble respecting (most of the time).

I've come to somewhat understand how she did this for me in the last few years through many deep talks. The basic gist is that she always gave me options and let me make the choice.  

She almost never (if ever) made the choice for me. And since I made the choice I was able to meet the expectation (most of the time).  

A fiercely independent individual like myself has always bucked hard against anything that felt like it was limiting my freedom. Fortunately, my Mom who also highly values freedom never did this to me.

The CEO of my company Ohmygreen has also created an environment where I am constantly asked "what do you think you/we should do?" We almost always discuss options & related consequences. Then ultimately, I am always empowered to make my own choice. I'm not even sure if he's ever specifically told me what to do.

This has resulted in the most fulfilling career/calling of my life thus far and I have been massively successful in my role at the company as a result of this personally empowering environment.

I have a highly similar "pro-choice" environment in my home life with my fiancé -- one of the big reasons I know we are going to be successful and happy in the long-run. Basically, my significant other never tells me what to do, always explains the reasons behind anything and everything we are doing (often before I even ask for the reasons), and ultimately I am always left with the power to choose.

To some, this need to understand and choose may seem somewhat unruly and rebellious. To others you may see yourself in this. Regardless of the personal resonance, almost all of us know someone like this (whether we are consciously aware of it).

Well, thanks to an awesome podcast interview by Chase Jarvis along with the developing work of the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project & Better Than Before) I believe I am finally coming to understand myself in a new & deeply profound way.

And holy hell I am grateful!

I may have just stumbled upon the missing pieces for the keys to consciously understanding & empowering my ability to meet both internal and external expectations.  

I am still personally testing this, but I wanted to share now because I am so excited about this discovery and I want to up my rate of understanding & learning by interacting with others who may be going through the same thing with themselves or someone they know. . . so please leave comments!

According to Gretchen's Four Tendencies quiz I am a Rebel (take quiz here). And according to her framework as a Rebel I resist all expectations, outer and inner... Wait, what?! This sounds so familiar!

In Gretchen's words she says the following about Rebels [my comments in italicized brackets]:

  • They choose to act from a sense of choice, of freedom. Rebels wake up and think, "What do I want to do today?" [LOL! This is too familiar. I usually have a running list of a dozen or more things I want to do daily and each day I wake up and intuitively do what calls to me the most.]
  • They resist control, even self-control, and usually enjoy flouting rules and expectations. [I definitely resist any sort of outer control, bending rules does often appeal to me (that doesn't mean I always bend them), and expectations often drive me crazy. I often consciously and subconsciously subvert outer expectations placed upon me. Nonetheless, I have serious self-control when it comes to things related to my identity. More on that below.]
  • Rebels place a high value on authenticity and self-determination and bring an unshackled spirit to what they do. Rebels work toward their own goals, in their own way, and while they refuse to do what they're "supposed" to do, they can accomplish their own aims. [Definitely agree. I often find myself purposely trying to do things in my own way, different from the usual way. I get a strong sense of satisfaction doing things uniquely. And "unshackled spirit" couldn't ring more true.]
  • Rebels often frustrate others because they can't be asked or told to do anything. They don't care if "people are counting on you," "you said you'd do it," "your parents will be upset," "it's against the rules," "this is the deadline," or "it's rude." In fact, asking or telling Rebels to do something often makes them do just the opposite. [I had to teach my fiancé how my Mom parented me in order to avoid the chaos this could cause in a relationship.]
  • The people around Rebels must guard against accidentally igniting their spirit of opposition--particularly challenging for the parents of Rebel children. [Both my parents, CEO of my company, and fiancé all do an incredible job of avoiding this.]
  • In fact, Rebels sometimes frustrate themselves, because they can't tell themselves what to do. [Definitely run into this too many times. I believe I've finally consciously discovered solutions & strategies to overcome this (see below) . . . Amen!]

Three important strategies Gretchen brings up for the Rebel are [my comments italicized, but much is paraphrased from the reading of Better Than Before & scouring Gretchen's blog]:

1. Strategy of Clarity

  • This is all about having a strong "why" behind why you are doing something. This includes the "why" related to your corresponding values & the "why" related to the action.
  • I.E. I exercise because health & fitness is an important value to me and I exercise because it makes me feel energized and I love looking & feeling fit. 
  • By being able to powerfully articulate in your own words why you are doing something the impetus to follow through in a way that actually brings satisfaction and a sense of looking forward to meeting the expectation can be consciously created.

2. Strategy of Identity

  • This is consciously tying the expectation (inner & outer) to who you see yourself as and who you want to see yourself as. This strategy of Identity is PARTICULARLY POWERFUL for me personally (more on that in the "Alchemical Learnings" at the end).
  • Case in point #1: When I finally read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron I was able to deeply tie my personal identity to journaling, writing, and reclaiming myself as an artist. Her work struck such a strong chord within me that after more than decade of resisting the suggestion of journaling by teachers, family, & my partner I have now been journaling & writing with consistency ever since reading her book at the beginning of 2014.
  • Case in point #2: When I first started Transcendental Meditation (TM) I decided that this was who I was and wanted to be (a meditator) and almost two years later I've meditated every single day (twice a day for 20 minutes) without ever missing a single session. Even I am surprised at this commitment to meeting an expectation. This identity was reinforced by the fact that people I aspired to be like also did TM (Tim Ferriss, Oprah, Hugh Jackman, George Lucas & many other powerhouses). 
  • Another personal example is my fitness. A huge part of my personal identity is being incredibly fit so I have no problem exercising regularly and eating in a way that supports optimal aesthetic fitness.

3. Strategy of Other People

  • Rebels pride themselves on being "different" from other people. This has been the story of my life. I've always enjoyed taking the path less traveled and doing things people either said I couldn't do or doing things that I "thought" other people thought I couldn't do. Whether they actually do doubt me doesn't even have to be true as long as I "think" they are doubting me. Ludicrous, but true for me many times in my life. Proving "other people" wrong and breaking societal norms brings me joy and action-taking energy.
  • Case in point #1: It was uncommon for people in my high school to go to Stanford University (or equivalent level University). I even thought that most "other people" I shared this dream with doubted me. Whether they actually did doubt me is totally up for debate, but since I thought they did I had infinite energy to pursue this goal and even after being denied the first time I made it into Stanford on the second try.
  • Case in point #2: It was uncommon for people who went to Stanford to go work in nightlife . . . I ended up working in Hollywood Nightlife for 7 years.
  • Another personal example is my bodybuilding and yoga dual nature. I consider myself both a bodybuilder and a yogi -- a combination that isn't commonly found. I find it personally gratifying that I can be both when often a bodybuilder has no interest or sees no point in doing yoga and vice versa. And I personally get a kick when I am met with a surprised look after explaining my passion for both physical disciplines.


Part bodybuilder, part yogi, all Rebel 🌓 

Part bodybuilder, part yogi, all Rebel 🌓 


These strategies (Clarity, Identity, Other People) have value for all Four Tendencies. A brief overview of those Four Tendencies from Gretchen are:

Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin


  1. Upholder: "I do what others expect of me--and what I expect of myself"
  2. Questioner: "I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn't make sense, I won't do it."
  3. Obliger: "I do what I have to do. I don't want to let others, but I may let myself down."
  4. Rebel: "I do what I want in my own way. If you try to make me do something--even if I try to make myself do something--I'm less likely to do it."

Curious what you are and want to know more? Go take the quiz & find out! Takes less than 5 minutes.

Alchemical Learnings

  1. I finally have found a framework that makes sense as to why it is so easy for me to form and keep some habits and so difficult to create and keep others. Same goes for internal and external expectations set my by myself and other people.
  2. I now have three strategies (Clarity, Identity, & Other People) with which I can consciously use to strategically build empowering habits and meet internal & external habits. [I am still testing so will update this article if I come upon deeper insight or new & improved Rebel strategies. Please leave me a comment if you have any!]
  3. The strategy of IDENTITY seems to be the most powerful tool for me. Despite being a rebel I've always been highly successful in business because I've always considered being a topnotch businessman and entrepreneur an incredibly important part of my core identity. Same goes for my fitness. I am now testing this strategy more thoroughly seeing if I can tie my identity to areas and expectations I've resisted in the past.
  4. I can easily give the following getting-a-Rebel-to-meet-expecations-framework to anyone who is looking to personally or professionally work with me in a co-empowering way. Discovered by mother originally in my life and personally consciously re-cognized by Gretchen during her interview with Chase Jarvis where she says, "Information, Consequences, Choice." The framework for working with a rebel is:
    1. Go over ALL the information behind and around the expectation (or habit).
    2. Go over ALL the consequences (good, bad, & neutral) of various choices and possible outcomes.
    3. Let the Rebel make the final choice once step 1 & 2 have been thoroughly vetted.

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. Go take the quiz & find out what your tendency is!
  2. If you are a Rebel try out the strategies of Clarity, Identity, & Other People with an expectation you have (internal or external). I am trying these strategies out with my taxes (which I have notoriously avoided and been late on way too many times in this lifetime).
  3. Think you interact regularly with a Rebel? Try the Information-Consequences-Choice strategy and see how it works.
  4. Leave any/all comments below about Rebels (yours personally if you are Rebel & your experience working/dealing with a Rebel in your life).

Life is full of expectations and habits. Our own. Other people's. And society's.

Self-knowledge is such a powerful tool. Deeply understanding what and how we are motivated is an incredible way to bring effectiveness, more grace and increased happiness to our very own lives so that we can meet inner & outer expectations and build & break habits with the least amount of friction possible and in the most efficient way for our individual way of being.

In my own life I’ve discovered that despite being a Rebel I can be effective with meeting internal & external expectations and build awesome life-affirming habits as long as I have strong reasons behind me. This is why I consider myself a REBEL WITH A CAUSE.

Despite your tendency two maxims hold true & empowering for you and for me . . .

As Socrates said, “Know thyself.” And as Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. I am looking forward to Gretchen more fully drawing out this empowering framework in her upcoming book on the Four Tendencies.

P.P.S. Positive transformation is an ongoing never-ending part of an empowered life. Why not mechanize the process by joining my NEWSLETTER?!