I come across as a well-balanced person – I leave on time from work, I have time for hobbies, I enjoy myself and try to keep in shape. Many times when I deliver trainings or talk to people, they ask me how I manage to do that. It’s funny – like most things you end up being good at, this was a weak area for me. I worked long hours, put a lot of heart in my job, and stayed up at night thinking about what I could have said/done differently to get better results. Sounds familiar? I know it does. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s good to put your heart into your job. If you don’t why do you spend 8+ hours there anyway? It’s good to think about wrong decisions or things you said and take learnings from them. Only know when it crosses the line into your personal life.
How do you know when it’s too much work and not enough life?
1. You’re constantly spending more time than you want at work.
It’s not a crowded time of the year; it’s not an important project. It’s business as usual, and it takes 12 hours per day, leaving you drained at the end. That’s not ok and should call for a talk with your manager, because either (a) your job is overloaded (but hey, who has the luxury of being loaded only 90%?) or (b) you have a management issue (you can’t manage your agenda, your colleagues, your boss, or your peers who take up too much time). If it’s neither of these and you or your manager can’t do anything about it, it might be a bigger decision you need to make, and I’ll talk more about that later.
2. You may be coming on time from work, but it stays on your mind.
You bring it up in your conversations with friends; your significant other complains that you’re all the time worried about “office stuff”, or you can’t sleep at night because you keep thinking about it (that’s me right there!). This is a less obvious lack of balance, but more damaging from the inside. People you love can (sometimes) live with the fact that you have a 12 h daily job. But they won’t bear long to see that you think only about work. And that’s why you need to work with yourself, with your mind.
3. You don’t have hobbies or social activities outside work.
You may be working regular hours, not bringing work home and not thinking about it, but you put all your energy into office hours, and feel unable to do anything else outside work. You’re so drained you can only crash on the couch in front of the TV and order some pizza, every night. Welcome, “Super – Size – Me”! In a few years you’ll have so many health issues, you won’t know where to start. Oh, not to mention no social life. I know it’s difficult, especially in the beginning. But there must be some areas in your life that you’d like to explore outside work. Let me tell you my story. It’s not ended yet – the journey is still in progress. But I feel some difference worth sharing, and I hope it helps. A few years ago, I got a job I didn’t like. I disliked it so much, I wanted to quit and do what I really wanted - coaching. Then I realized I could do both, so I enrolled to a coaching school. One thing led to another and I spent my early mornings and evenings building websites, doing teleclasses, holding coaching sessions and researching on personal development. It was an extremely fulfilling and productive period of my life. I didn’t think I could do so much in so little time, but I did. Learning – don’t worry about not having enough time. If you really want to pursue a hobby or a passion, you will make time. Later in my career, I found myself worrying and thinking too much about work. Although I tried to relax at home, somehow these thoughts permeated through my mind and kept me awake at night. I did one thing differently – I learned to relax my mind. I started meditating daily and after a few weeks improvements started to show. Learning – take care of yourself, whatever that means for you. Nobody will build you a statue. Your family, your friends, and most of all you yourself, need you. I wrote about it here, here and here. The way I started was by reading this and this, and watching this. Also liked when I found this, and this a few months later. I’m not a finisher. I haven’t meditated for more than a month. But I feel (kind of) balanced, still. I also lounge on the couch at the end of the day. It’s difficult to get up and sew, or draw, or do anything else than eat Vietnamese soup and watch Gilmore Girls or Game of Thornes. I struggle with that, too. This is my next battle to win.