There is no fine line between being completely dedicated to your job as opposed to showing unhealthy signs of being truly addicted to work. Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us haven’t been able to distinguish one from the other. The following is a guide to putting dedication vs. addiction to work into perspective for you.
Dedication in the workplace, regardless of whether you work at a place of business or at home, can occur in many forms. For example:
- You may have a project or multiple projects that need to be completed before a deadline several times a year and working towards completing them is absolutely essential to your success.
- You are passionate about your work and completely committed to making the business a success. You will do everything necessary to accomplish this.
- You care about your company’s success and see your job as more than a means of earning a paycheck.
- You don’t unnecessarily take days off just because you have available sick days and you certainly don’t make it a habit to show up to work tardy.
These are some examples of showing dedication at work. It’s rewarding and fulfilling to show loyalty and provide excellent job performance for your employer or for your own company in order to make the company successful.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction to Work
However, here’s where dedication can turn into a full-fledged work addiction:
- Ask yourself how you feel after putting in a hard day’s work. If you are constantly feeling exhausted and your tiredness is consistently overshadowing your feelings of pride and accomplishment, this may be your first sign of being addicted to work.
- Is your life fairly balanced? For example, are you able to make time for and stay in shape through exercise? Are you able to maintain healthy relationships with your loved ones by spending time with them? If the answers are “no” to any of these two questions, you may be in danger of being addicted to work.
- Do you like your time off away from work? Do you look forward to savoring your successes at work by doing the things you love? Do you take the time to enjoy your hobbies? If you don’t, you may want to reassess your situation and make some adjustments.
- Do you constantly bring your work home with you? A person who can’t separate their work lives from their home lives rarely achieve a fulfilling life. Their existence is consumed with closing the next deal or making more money while sacrificing their personal lives.
Next: How to Take Control of Your Life
In the previous installment describing the definition of work life balance, we talked about the importance of achievement and enjoying life by setting and reaching your short and long term goals and doing your best to do the things you love with the people you care about, including yourself.
It’s important to realize at this point how there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to balancing work with your personal life. In other words, nobody ever said you have to work a 9-to-5 job with a one hour lunch in between and come home and spend every waking hour with your spouse or your children on a daily basis.
A person who has recently started their own business is probably going to have to work long hours for a while until that business gets off the ground. This person will probably have to work between 50 to 70 hours a week! Thus, this person’s optimal work life balance is going to differ greatly from a person who works five days a week from 9 to 5. The key to achieving balance in your life is to work intelligently with what you have. The person who works extremely long hours every week is going to have to be far more organized and consistent with their actions than a person who only works 40 hours a week.
How Stress From Being Overworked Affects You
When you don’t have time enough to do the things you need to do because your career is literally training your energy, you are at risk of falling into a dangerous trap if you haven’t already. If you can’t participate in your favorite activities on your own time because of work, you are without a doubt going to start to feel resentment towards your employer at some point. Your productivity is also likely to suffer as you find it difficult to get through most workdays. Your demeanor may also change and you may not treat your co-workers as nicely as you used to. The demands of life can fall on your shoulders like a ton of bricks and it will be extremely difficult to support all that weight.
Heck, you might end up risking the loss of your job if you are not careful!
Your health may begin to suffer as you can no longer enjoy the benefits of going directly to the gym or for a nightly jog after work because of your family obligations. Who has time for exercise when you’re working 80 hours a week? You might start gaining weight which in turn, will place you at risk of having high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, or even diabetes.
The stress of working too much can also seriously affect your relationship with your significant other. Spouses complain all the time that their partners are married to their jobs and neglecting the most important people around them. Many couples blame demanding careers for their failure in marriage when in fact, most have always had the opportunity to make changes and possibly save the relationship.
What are you to do when you have to pay the bills and support yourself and/or your family so they can enjoy all those little luxuries in life they have grown accustomed to? You may have a great job that pays well but is a little inflexible when it comes to family time. It’s difficult to even begin to think of working somewhere else, so what do you do? The answer is not so simple but there is much hope for anyone who lacks work life balance. In the next installment of this series, we will take a look at the difference between being dedicated or addicted to your career as well as putting things into perspective so you can turn the corner and get past all the roadblocks preventing you from reaching fulfillment in your life.
Work-life balance can be defined in many ways but at its very core, it means striking a healthy balance between your work with your home life while achieving your life goals and finding happiness. Approximately half of all working adults in the United States find it difficult to blend their personal and/or family lives with their work in order to create a harmonious environment leading to happiness. These work life balance statistics are quite alarming but the good news is anyone can change their situation with the right information and a little perseverance.
Everyone has a different idea of how to balance their lives because we all have different goals, and priorities. We all have unique ideas regarding what can bring us true happiness. Even so, we all have two things in common; we want to enjoy our lives to the fullest and stay healthy.
Having a fulfilling life can also mean different things to different people. For one person, this can be accomplishing business goals and becoming wealthy and providing luxuries for themselves and their family while, for another, it can simply mean doing the best they can to have basic necessities and to spend quality time with their family throughout their lives. However, to live a truly fulfilling life you need to focus on achievement and enjoyment; you need to set and reach your goals and do your best to enjoy your work and home life while doing it! Lack of work life balance can have serious consequences in the form of negatively and permanently affecting your loved ones.
Articles on Work Life Balance to the Rescue
In the next few installments, we will take you through a series of proven methods to help you make an excellent transition in your life so you can start finding a path you can be proud of.
When was the last time you took time out for yourself in your personal life? Have you been able to disconnect from your work life as soon as you have gotten in your car for the drive home? How often haven’t you found yourself taking your work home because you have a deadline to meet or you don’t want to get behind in your work?
How long has it been since you have taken a real vacation? We’re talking a full week or two weeks where you could completely disconnect and enjoy yourself or your loved ones.
Many people fall into the trap of not making time for themselves because they work extremely long hours and they barely have enough energy to bring themselves to do anything else when they have the free time. As a result, their personal lives and health suffer while they fall into a perpetual workplace spinning cycle they can’t seem to get out of!
As a human being, you are entitled to achieving the best work-life balance for yourself! Once you set yourself on the right path to get the life you deserve, nobody will be able to take that away from you. On the flip side, if you are a slave to your job, you will have a tough time breaking free from that horrible spell unless you decide to do it in a deliberate and intelligent manner. Don’t you think it’s about time you found the right work-life balance?
I can’t think of a bigger responsibility than being a parent. Along with the joy you will share with your kids, you’re destined to share some heart breaks, too; it’s this thing called life.
However, if you share your life with your kids and get involved in theirs, your relationship with them will continue to grow by leaps and bounds to a wonderful place you would have never imagined. You will create a bond with them so strong the whole world could not break through it!
The biggest mistake parents make these days is to not bond with their kids. It’s easy for this to occur, especially when you’re working long hours trying to make a living so you can have the best things in life for yourself and your family. The problem with this is; many parents overlook the most obvious and important part of a child’s upbringing while they are getting there; parental influence!
Your children are like sponges who will absorb the way you are with them, the values you instill, and the lessons you teach; these will all be a part of their make-up for the rest of their lives. It’s very difficult to do this when you are not having success balancing work and life.
If you find it difficult to balance life with work, both your home life and your work life will suffer. You need to place your priorities in order if you want to effectively lead a healthy and fulfilling life at both.
There are many initial adjustments you can make right off the bat that won’t require much work at all. For example, if you have a job that requires flexible hours, why not approach your boss and ask about working a different shift to accommodate your family’s needs? You be surprised at how many bosses will bend over backwards for an employee who performs well and one they want to retain. While you’re at work, it makes sense to make it known to your friends and co-workers you are a family person. Believe me, word will spread to the point where your boss will eventually think twice about assigning you a task that interferes with your home life.
Even the worst and most inflexible bosses will oftentimes put up with a worker who needs to fend for his or her family in lieu of sacrificing themselves at their job. It’s all about communication and influence relating to the way you carry yourself while you were performing your work. It also has to do with establishing a good working relationship with your supervisor.
If you are a business owner you should take advantage of all the technology available at your fingertips. You will probably find you can perform much of the work at home that you regularly complete in the office. Take advantage of this so you can spend more time with your kids, even if it’s only minutes a day.
Depending on the age of your children, you may want to involve them in some aspects of your work. For example, you can easily get your nine-year-old kid to help you file important papers or your 12 year old to accompany you to Office Max to help pick out office equipment. Think of the sense of accomplishment and self-worth your child will feel knowing he or she assisted Daddy or Mommy in something of extreme importance for the company and for the family.
Finally, when you come home from work don’t just go straight to the shower and collapse in bed, or even hop on your laptop so you can finish more work. Heck, don’t even go to the kitchen to start cooking yet, either! Spend ten minutes with your family first and use your time wisely so you can reconnect after a hard day’s work. Go where your kids are, spend time with your spouse, feed the dog and pet him. You’d also be surprised at the amount of stress you can relieve by partaking in the life of your loved ones. If you make an effort, you will persevere and work and life will balance out beautifully.
We can take a look around us right now and instantly see what matters most in life as we wake up this morning knowing how many people perished in a massive tornado that touched down in Moore, Oklahoma.
We will also wake up today and go to work knowing times have changed drastically in the last 30 years or so to the point where we have been working ourselves to death. Still, many of us crave finding balance in life so we can focus on ourselves and our families but we haven’t the slightest idea of how to accomplish this.
We simply have so many responsibilities in our work lives so we continue to struggle immensely as we try to perform work to the best of our abilities while trying to prioritize our family life.
The challenges for women today when it comes to managing work life balance are especially difficult as they juggle work with raising kids like never before. Most of these women are employed because they choose to or they have no other choice whether they are married or single. Regardless, they are in it to win it!
For the last few decades, we have struggled to balance work with home life and will continue to do so unless we make a change. The million dollar question is; how do we do it?
There are plenty of stories about how company executives have reached the pinnacle of success while sacrificing their marriages and breaking up their families in the process, and for what?
On the flip side, many others are struggling with mediocre performance at work so they can spend more quality time with their families or for those who are single, to simply enjoy their life away from work. They wake up every day wondering what they are doing working in a company that doesn’t appreciate them and wants to drive them into the ground. They worry about being fired over job performance issues when they actually have their priorities straight!
It seems you can’t win either way!
There is no getting around the fact that work is very important in our lives. Most of us feel a great deal of satisfaction with our accomplishments and recognition from our superiors. Some who run their own companies are in a good place because they have assembled great teams to help them reach company goals with minimal supervision, too. A select few lucky people have managed to earn a great living while having little or no problems balancing their home lives with their personal lives.
So, Where Do We Go From Here?
We can challenge ourselves to improve in the areas of time management, making a living, handling our finances, and family life.
These all go together and are intertwined in our quest to be living a life that matters. The goal is to get them all working seamlessly together sot he result can be happiness.
What matters most in life differs from person to person but we all have one thing in common. We want to enjoy life to its fullest, don’t we?
Let’s all take a moment to reflect on what we have done in our lives and what we have yet to do to get us where we ultimately want to go.
We all want to get ahead in life and for the most part, making big bucks equates to working long hours and sacrificing a large part of family and home life. On the extreme end, ask Oprah Winfrey how many hours of work she has put in every day for the last 20 years or so and you will be shocked when she tells you she worked ’round the clock! On a smaller scale, ask the average salaried professional manager how often they are able to work only 8 hours a day and they will look at you as if you are a Martian. Folks, if you want to make more money, you more than likely have to work more hours than the next person. That’s how it’s always been and will always be!
Certainly, there are exceptions to the rule. you may have an awesome, well-paying job that only requires you to work 40 hours a week. You may be one of the lucky few who have struck gold with an Internet business which allows you to work at home.
While it’s a great feeling to make more money and not have to worry about your bills and whether or not you’ll make the rent, car or mortgage payment on time, the drawbacks to working so many hours are concerning.
For one, if you have children or even if you only have a significant other, I don’t have to tell you how too much work cuts deeply into your personal life. You are going to miss that little league baseball game more often than not, you will miss a few honor student ceremonies, you will be late for family get-togethers, and you will disappoint your loved ones on occasion. When you make a great living, that’s part of the process.
Secondly, recent studies have indicated people who work 10 hour shifts are over 60% more likely to experience heart problems than those who don’t. Breast cancer, ulcers, and depression are some of the other problems associated with those who work extremely long hours on a consistent basis.
Other studies (ughh…what’s up with these studies?) have shown working over 40 hours a week increases the chances of getting ‘burn-out’ by 6 times over those who work less than 35 hours. Furthermore, those who work long hours are more than twice as likely to be injured on the job.
What’s the solution? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Many of us will continue a juggling act and we will try our best to balance out life and work but one thing is clear; if you want to make a change, you can do it as long as it is not going to hurt your current standing at your place of employment, or if you are a business owner, as long as the small amount of lost revenue is worth your personal time or time with your family.