We all know that hard work pays off, and that ‘you get out what you put in’. We tell ourselves that it will be worth it in the end, so we keep the bigger goals in mind through the blood, sweat and tears of it all..But as we strive for success in our work lives, are we sacrificing our personal wellbeing?
We’ve somehow reached a point where dedication is determined by what used to be classed as impossible standards. We work around the clock, get little to no sleep, and high stress levels are considered the norm. With advanced technology at our disposal, we’ve made a rod for our own backs. Because if work CAN be accessed from anywhere, at any time, it becomes expected that we’ll do just that. And then before we know it, there are no ‘days off’, just days where we do a little less work than usual.
The saddest thing is, we’ve become so used to feeling like shit, both mentally and physically, we’ve come to accept this as just how things are in today’s economy. But if we don’t break the cycle, being ‘dull’ as a result of our ‘all work and no play’ lifestyles will be the least of our worries.
The ‘workaholic’ badge of honour
What was once a term reserved for a select few, the label of ‘workaholic’ now applies to more people than ever. Some even wear it with pride, because to them, it signifies a seriousness about what they do. This of course has a ripple effect, sending a message to those around them that if you really want something, you’re not working hard enough for it unless you’re on the brink of a burn out. It becomes a game of oneupmanship to see who is going to the most extreme lengths to achieve their goals.
On the flip side of this coin, are the people who don’t like to call themselves workaholics, but possess many of the same behaviours (sometimes without realising it). It usually starts small. They may have answered one late phone call from work, or even just replied to an email outside of their normal working hours. Either way. ever since that point, they have been stuck in a trap of being ‘available’ to those who want (and may not necessarily even need) them. And once those expectations are set, it’s hard to lower them.
So how the hell do we get ourselves out of this mess?
Stop feeling guilty about rest
When you’re programmed to believe that work is the be all and end all, you attach guilt to taking time out. The fact is, without sufficient rest, we simply cannot work to the best of our ability, It really is that simple. Furthermore, expecting our bodies to react positively to neglect is just downright delusional. Think about it. Would we expect premium results from a household appliance that was left to run constantly? No. At some point, we would expect it to stop.
What’s alarming, is that we wouldn’t treat it that way in the first place, but we do it to our bodies on a regular basis. The human body is amazing, and is capable of some truly remarkable things. But just like work, you get out what you put into it. Look after it and it will look after you. Doing absolutely nothing sometimes, is allowed!
Be less available
“Problems, as a rule, solve themselves or disappear if you remove yourself as an information bottleneck and empower others” – Tim Ferris
In other words, if you’re not always there to step in when there are so-called ‘work emergencies’, not only will things eventually sort themselves out, but others may be forced to take their heads out of their arses and take action when nobody is there to pick up the slack. Of course, you don’t wanna be THAT person who shirks all of their responsibilities and leaves a shit storm in their wake. But there will be times when you are simply not needed, but people have come to expect you to be available because you always have been. It’s time to lower those expectations!
Don’t ignore your overflowing plate
In an ideal world, we’d all love to be able to say yes to every opportunity that presented itself to us. We’d love to have a million things on the go, and be excelling at them all in equal measure. But the fact is, we are not superhuman, and to expect that from ourselves is ludicrous. In trying to keep up with what we perceive to be what a hard working person looks like by today’s standards, we drown. Why? Because we’re convinced that to admit we cannot cope equates to failure.
So we push ourselves, give more of ourselves, until there is almost nothing left to give. Don’t wait until you’re near burn out to make an adjustment. Be honest with yourself about how much you have on your plate, and how much you can realistically manage. Sure, it’s possible that you may put some noses out of joint, but in the long run, it will be one of the best decisions you’ve made for yourself.
The most important thing to remember is that self care is NOT selfish. We need to take a step back, address our priorities, and feel more comfortable about admitting when we are not okay. We need to quit putting so much pressure on ourselves and holding ourselves up to unrealistic standards and ideals. If there is one thing that we fall over ourselves to achieve, let it be a real work-life balance. Because without that, what’s the point?
Are you a workaholic, or have you managed to avoid this workaholic culture? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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