Career Fulfillment Killer #1- Overwork
For the next 7 weeks I will be blogging about how to increase fulfillment in your career-specifically by eliminating the career fulfillment killers in your life! For those of you out there that have landed on a career that is a great fit for you, that makes you feel alive and effective and engaged with the world as well as the deeper parts of yourself, this blog is for you. If that does not describe you, don’t despair, most of the other blogs will be devoted to you.
So first let’s talk about that dream job you’ve landed. First of all, congratulations! You are now in the small minority of people who believe their work is an excellent fit for their skills and aspirations. This is more than half the battle. Here is the challenge once you get there- have you made your career your life?
Now I don’t mean it is a bad idea to pour the best of your talent, effort and expertise into your working hours. After all, you will spend more time working over your lifetime than doing anything else (other than sleeping). However, there can be something addictive about finally finding a place where your efforts matter, you make a difference, and you can feel truly accomplished and satisfied at the end of the day. For some of you, or for people you may know, this also may be the only place in life you experience those things. No surprise then that the temptation is- work more!
Now this would be fine if the old adage were true- you can’t have too much of a good thing. Unfortunately not. Can’t have too much chocolate cake? Can’t have too much intense exercise? Can’t have too much Christmas music? Yes, yes you can. You know that feeling around December 20th every year where you think “If I hear Jingle Bells one more time I’m swearing off Christmas forever”…The same thing can happen with your approach to your work. Burnout. It happens in great careers just as in not so great ones. So here are 2 basic tips to prevent overwork:
- Develop outside interests. Start with one, and make it at least a weekly thing. If there is a way to combine this interest with some sort of group or organization, even better. For example, if you want to start reading more, join a book club. If you like to run or lift weights, get a workout partner. It sometimes helps to be part of a group or partnership for when those days come when you are backsliding into overwork- the commitment to the group may keep you centered.
- Unplug. Now I know this is more realistic for some professions than others, there are many careers where there is just no way around being chained to the smartphone 24/7. To the extent that you are able, establish good rhythms of at home time vs. at work time. If you are in a career where you need to be available at all hours, try to plan for a 4 hour block of time or so a week where you can step away. Let your team/clientele know that you are away for that period of time but will check in afterwards. Most positions can sustain 4 hours of being totally unplugged over a weekend, and it may surprise you how having that truly “away” time will impact your balance.
Overwork kills career fulfillment because it slowly reduces your energy and shrinks your outside interests. Don’t let too much of a good thing negatively impact your work life!