Working Your Ass Off vs Working Your Health Away
I’m a hard believer that you should work your ass off for a few years, while using this period to learn and familiarize yourself with as much as possible, while becoming an expert in (at least) one thing. I consider myself a multipotentialite, wonderfully explained in Emilie Wapnick’s Ted talk, which until not too long ago wasn’t necessarily considered a good thing within society’s structure.
Nonetheless, over the course of a decade; I worked my ass off straight through army service, diving in to my first full time high tech job directly after (2007), obtaining my BA in 2.5 years of night and summer courses, moving on to the next demanding high tech role (2012).
I completely loved most of it, but I was absolutely and unknowingly working my health away. Even if it took me a self sabbatical and ten more months at my next high tech role to acknowledge this.
I couldn’t yet pin down my next step, or answer what I actually want, not only in my “work” aspect of life, so I started by writing down the only two things that came to mind quite easily; manage my own schedule & do good (whatever TF that means).
I dove deep into my ego and realized that work was subconsciously providing me a form of External Validation, which (previously) assisted in my confidence and my sense of self. Stepping out of my surroundings and looking inward in order to define what I like and dislike in my current “high tech life”, allowed me to notice; Organizational politics bum me out and give off High School deja vu Conflict Debt is an unfortunate norm Too many repeated “too little, too late” turnovers
No longer associated with clear physical injuries such as hearing and loss lower back pain, in 2019 The Global Health Organization declared ‘Burn Out’ as an occupational phenomenon, a modern age disease.
Here are 3 simple ways to tell if it’s your tush you’re working off, or your health away;
Not providing feedback and detailing your expectations looks like this; enabling -> conflict-debt begins to load up -> dislike and distrust begin to rise -> parting on a bitter note. Are you relying on your employees to a.) be telepathic b.) use ‘common sense’ ? How has that been working so far?
If someone you manage asks you for feedback and you don’t know how to respond, it’s ok to not immediately reply. Hear what’s being said and read between the lines, gather your thoughts and consult with HR if needed.
Open communication, zero conflict debt and transparency exists when we stop sugar coating, start owning. Feedback is the best gift you can give. Learn how to.
Boundaries are personal Some people do not love the life they are living, sometimes work becomes an un/knowing addiction, as something to fill or help distract from whatever they are trying to avoid; an unhappy marriage/household, a teething screaming infant, annoying roommate, lack of social/romantic connections, suppressed trauma, or an insanely high number of possible reasons. Lack of boundaries is usually a symptom of unfulfillment in disguise.
What to do..? Begin creating boundaries instantly, by KPI’ing everything! Win-Win! KPI’s should be crystal clear to both managers and employees. People tend to say yes to additional workload for numerous reasons; from people pleasing characteristics to trying to prove your worth by doing additional this and that and that and this. The road to burnout is a slippery one, employers must be aware of this, take a stand and be accountable for their employee’s wellbeing. Just because someone can do it all, doesn’t mean they should, this road leads to morale and performance decreasing.
Workplace happiness is a combination of things, which in their core show that each individual is seen and acknowledged. For instance; * Equality — pay, opportunities, unbiased performance measurement methods * Respect boundaries — not just in theory or values, if this is not adapted and enforced by CEO & management downward, it will not work. * ‘Thirsty Thursday’ turns to ‘Teachy Thursday’ — Invest in minds monthly, instead of beer gut weekly. * Common Goals — activism, sponsorships and promoting your teams’ interests for a local and global better future * Flexibility & Up-to-date equipment * Always keep your word. If something has changed, share this promptly & transparently
Happy employees are 12% more productive and take 10X less sick days, than unhappy employees. Don’t get me confused, this does not make the employer (or basically anyone other than yourself in life, besides yourself) responsible for your happiness or maintaining the right boundaries. This is a balance that you are very much in charge of finding.
Current workforce standards must change, and as with every process; Patience, agility and sympathy, should be the mindset. Change begins with the very first step.
The sad truth is that some companies are and will stay unhealthy. Don’t feel guilty to follow your heart & health.
If this resonates with you, feel free to share your experiences and how you hold (or tend to start) your workplace boundaries. E