Ok, Do You Work Too Much?
(ThyBlackMan.com) Do you work too much? Many of us do, even if we don’t realize it. As I coach my clients, I am consistently asked by a cross section of people: “How can I maintain a healthy and fulfilling work and personal life?” These are talented, wonderful people who are very successful in business, but frustrated, and sometimes feel guilty, with what little time and energy they have left for anything else. Hard work is good. Overworking is a hazard to your quality of life. Overworking steals opportunities to develop a fulfilling personal life. Even more alarming, it can cause serious health problems. The stress of overworking is often a major contributor to serious health problems (strokes, heart disease, etc.) and less serious ones (headaches, colds, fatigue, ulcers).
I was asked to contribute to an article a magazine about this topic. The article focused on the societal pressure to overwork. Americans, in particular, work more hours each year than any other society in the Western world. I considered my response to the interview questions, and I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts on overworking. We live in a society that tends to value work and the attainment of money more than any other accomplishment. Even those who say that other aspects of life, such as relationships, family and spiritual life, are more important, tend to fall short when you look at the activities that actually consume them on a daily basis. Because work is so highly valued, overworking often goes unnoticed or is praised. Nonetheless, it is a problem that could make your life less fulfilling and enjoyable, and more stressful.
Danger Signs that You May Be Overworking
If you think you may be struggling with working too much on a consistent basis, consider your responses to these statements:
-You talk about work more than any other topic.
-Your work often replaces time with friends and social outings.
-Your home is a second office.
-You consistently work overtime, whether there is a pressing deadline or not.
-You take work, and even office equipment, with you during holidays and weekend trips.
-Work provides more joy in your life than anything else.
-You feel that sleep and personal time cut into your work time.
-The last time you took vacation time was more than six months ago.
Any excessive behavior is usually rooted in our desire to fill a void of some sort in our lives. Ask yourself what you are getting from working so excessively. Is your marriage or personal life in trouble, and work serves as an escape for you? Does your primary identity or self-worth come from your work? Do you have a fear of failure that causes you to overwork for success? Pray for understanding and the wisdom and courage to overcome it. Ask your family and friends to support your efforts to make a change.
2. Choose your priorities and align your actions with them.
Remember the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” Make sure that you spend your time in such a way that your primary relationships – with God, yourself, and loved ones – are your true priorities. What we give our attention to grows, and what we starve of our attention, withers away. If your career gets all of your attention, it will grow, while your spiritual and personal life slowly, but surely will begin to decline.
3. Make appointments with yourself and the people you care about.
Take care of yourself by scheduling time to pamper yourself, relax or simply do nothing. If working too much is an issue, schedule time with your spouse, family or friends just like you would schedule time for a meeting for work.
If you still have problems, seek help from a trained counselor or therapist. Give yourself the gift of a life that honors all aspects of your life. Take action this week to engage fully and passionately in your work without overdoing it.