Reality Check – Has Work Become Your Life?
Do you work to live, or live to work?
I will write it one more time…
Do you work to live, or live to work?
Every time I hear that somebody passed away shortly after they retired, I hope that they took time to really enjoy life along the way. When I am working, I am a loyal hard-working solider. But when I am not, I am enjoying free time with friends and family when possible.
I saw a report on CNN a few years ago, and it gave me a horrible feeling in my stomach. The corporate world has made us believe in many cases that taking holidays shows a sign of weakness. When I hear that an employee has not taken holiday in several years, I always cringe.
This issue continues to get a lot of press, and work life balance has become more important than ever. Work demands and commuting makes our personal time very valuable. I have seen several managers and reps work way too many hours on a regular basis during my career. The question that I always have is…
What steps are you taking to insure that their work does not become your life?
Should it be common to work late at night?
- At what point do you admit that there are inefficiencies in your work habits, and you need to change how you do your job?
- Maybe you have too many responsibilities in your current role, and need to sit down with your manager to discuss the toll it is taking on you
There are still managers who subscribe to the theory of “most hours worked wins”, but this line of thinking is slowly going by the wayside.
I hate the saying “they were the first one in the office in the morning, and the last to leave at night”. How do we know that they are working all of that time? With all the distractions online, they may just be goofing off on the internet all day, or having “text-a-thons”.
I sent a group email one night at 10 pm from my home office once, just to tidy up a few odds and ends. I received a complaint the next day from one of my accounts. He asked me not to send correspondence at that time of night. I was a bit confused, so I asked why? He said that his phone vibrated on the night stand, and it woke him up! I forgot that some people are on call 24-7, and sleep with a phone close by.
I met an outside sales rep earlier in my career who told me that her kids had moved out, and she was not in a relationship, so work had taken over her life. She sounded far from excited about it!
I have heard of several organizations where employees never leave the office before their managers, even when they have completed their work for the day. This is one of the dumbest things that I have heard during my career!
Are you guilty of sending late night emails trying to “impress the boss”? Give your head a shake. This is just silly!
I know several reps and managers who work constantly during their holidays. A good friend of mind was got caught by his wife returning customer’s phone calls from his backyard shed when they were packing for vacation! I still bug him about that, but his wife did not think it was very funny!
I understand there may be the occasional need to communicate with the office when on holidays. But what does it say about the group that you surround yourself with, when they cannot “survive” for a few days, or even a couple of weeks without you?
I heard of the best “holiday-work compromise” from a rep a few years ago. He and his wife were going on a holiday without their kids. Things were both incredibly busy at work at the time. They agreed to one hour of work each morning at the hotel. But for the rest of the day, they left their cell phones in the room, and enjoyed each other’s company. Another rep was not so fortunate to be able to curb his work to one hour. He and his wife agreed to put his phone in the hotel safe before they left in the morning. That completely reduced his temptation to check every time another email came in!
I reference several European countries for setting the bar high for excellent work life balance. They have much more holiday time on average than most other parts of the world. Most stores and services even close during the day for a bit while the employees rest! How great is that? This is an unrealistic goal in many places including Canada and the United States, but I believe the message is very powerful. These people definitely work to live and not live to work.
We only live once, and you need to sit down and think about what is really important in your life if this has become an issue. Focus on enjoying your personal life now while still keeping up with work commitments. Obviously everyone’s personal situation is different, and many circumstances come in to play. I get that. I work odd hours to keep up with projects that I am working on via my blog and other forms of social media. But I make it all work.
Health issues, stress and strain on your family life can come in to play due to a heavy workload, among other issues. Don’t fall prey to the vicious cycle of work becoming your life.
- Do you feel like you are living to work, and not working to live?
- What changes can you make ASAP in your current role if other priorities are more important?
- Do you find it challenging to shut down “work mode” and get in to “family mode” when you are on holidays?
- What steps can you take to make a “holiday-work compromise” as a first step (then eventually phase out work altogether)?
- If your current situation makes it impossible to work to live and you prefer that, perhaps it is time to make a change!
- Promise yourself to take one action step today towards making a change, or it will never happen