How good do you feel about what you’re doing?
Myself, and many of my millennial peers, measure ourselves by our jobs. Whether it’s the header on our business card, how many people we have reporting to them, how many hours we rack up every week or the perks of our respective offices, we are forever in a weird competition. Also, fuelling the stereotype of the sensitive (borderline whimpy) disposition of the millennial, we are obsessed with ‘making an impact‘ and being ‘fulfilled‘ at work.
It seems there’s no in between. People either LOVE their jobs and have well and truly found their calling, or they discredit what they’re doing so much they can’t bear to share and answer the dreaded “what do you do?” by listing their side projects and then mumbling what they do ‘to pay the bills’. This is usually followed by a range of excuses and affirmations that it’s only temporary. For their sakes, we hope it is. We’ve been there, we’ve experienced both – hating our jobs and struggling to find meaning vs. loving our jobs to the point where our personal life is near non-existent – so let’s lay out the pros and cons and see where we end up.
Pro’s of being a (measured) workaholic
- Money. Hard work should lead you to a higher salary. A higher salary frees you from the stress of not having enough money and also the constraints of being poor.
- Power. If that is something that makes you feel great then go for it. That said, if your goals are to spread your wealth an power to elevate the lives of others and fulfil anthropologic dreams then brilliant. If your want of power is for personal glory or to ‘prove someone wrong’, it’s most likely toxic, and you should probably download a meditation app.
- Climbing your own career ladder. This is something I care about. So many of my friends say ‘why would you want to do that’, basically for financial security, something to fall back on and a sense of purpose. What could be better than using status to multiply your efforts to improve the lives of others and make real change in the world.
- Purpose. As much as many people argue that work is a means to an end, if you don’t find purpose in what you spend 40 hours a week doing, it can make you feel pretty low, even resentful. When you find a job that you value, that makes you happy and gives you a purpose, you’ll feel better spending your time on it.
- Kudos. If being hailed an ‘expert’ in your field fills you with proud feelings of accomplishment, then absolutely strive to grow your knowledge and constantly improve. It’s proven that spending ‘all’ your time on what you want pays off. If it was your job to look as good as Beyonce, you would. If you focused all of your energy every single day to becoming an olympian, genetics allowing, you would become one.
- Build your own empire. Who says you have to be a workaholic for someone else? Discover your own calling, and embark on a mission to create something meaningful AND profitable. Yes, that is possible.
Cons of being a workaholic
- Your health. Chances are your work/life balance isn’t in exquisite equilibrium and you’re tired all the time. Losing out on sleep, exercise and good old down time will lead to an overload of the stress hormone cortisol, which is not good if you’re trying to keep a trip mid-section. The knock-ons from lack of sleep will send you spiralling further; relying on sugar and caffeine to survive your work week is not big and it’s not clever.
- Mental wellbeing. If you never have time to ‘decompress’ and just let your mind relax for a while, you’ll end up worse off in the long run. Often, our best ideas come to us in times of peace or chill. Making sure you get enough psychological rest will lead to better ideas, more agile thinking and the ability to remain productive all the way through those long, long working weeks.
- Social life and/or relationships. If you’re on date night with your partner and itching to check your work email – or worse, actually checking it – stop. That says you’d rather check up on what your colleagues are saying over the beautiful person opposite you. We’ve got a friend who works for a super high-end fashion house, she’s rarely available to see friends, and although we’re really proud of her, we miss her too.
- Inability to switch off. Have you ever dreamt about work? It’s no fun to wake up, remembering that your brain has been swirling around the processes, systems, issues and deadlines of your day-to-day. You go to work, having had no downtime at all, and feel as though you’ve never left. This downward spiral will inevitably lead to resentment, lack of good sleep and generally leave you feeling a bit rubbish.
- Burnout. This is real and it hurts. Reaching burnout means that your mind and body have had enough. The effects can have a lasting impact and can trigger mental health issues from depersonalisation through to depression. Burnout should be avoided at all costs – your health takes precedence over all. No deadline, no meeting, no campaign is worth doing irreversible damage to your mind and body.
- Loneliness. Leaving early in the morning and returning late at night doesn’t allow much time for planning to see friends, speaking to loved ones on the phone and catching up with family. Then the weekend comes and you’re too tired to move and couldn’t bear to venture onto public transport. Over-working squeezes the space and time you have to make and maintain connections with your nearest and dearest and this is a real problem, an ‘epidemic’ today.
So, to us, it sounds as though being a workaholic sucks and can have a detrimental affect on your health which is a no-brainer. However, there’s a lot to be said for finding purpose and to live in financial security. The moral of the story is, everything in moderation. Get what you want, train hard and show your worth, just don’t forget to see your friends, eat, shower, sleep and call a family member every once in a while.
Liv @ OTSO