Your work is important to you and so it should be.
If we consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, your work allows you to earn an income to fulfill your most basic physiological and safety needs such as putting a roof over your head and food on the table.
For many people, work also allows fulfillment of higher levels of Maslow’s needs such as a sense of belonging, respect, self-esteem and an opportunity to be the best that you can be.
Having work that you enjoy, and that also supports the lifestyle you desire is the goal for most people.
However, what happens when work takes over and impinges on all aspects of your life?
- You can’t switch off at the end of the day
- You prioritise work at the expense of family, social life and even your health.
- You constantly think about work and worry about whether you should be doing better, more or differently.
- Your sense of self-worth is directly related to the feedback that you get in the workplace.
These are all common scenarios that my clients grapple with every single day. The $64 million question they ask me is “how can I stop caring so much about work?”
I always encourage them to go back to basics and ask themselves the following questions:
1. What is important to you in life?
When you sit down to assess the things that are important in your life, your career will feature but it is usually not the number one thing on your list.
Carrying out a stock take and identifying the things that really matter e.g. family, health, relationships, travel, and hobbies allows you to develop a sense of perspective about the role your career plays in your life.
Your career forms a part of the jigsaw of your life. It does not need to fuel your entire identity and be your only source of fulfillment. This realisation can be liberating.
Recently a client said to me “before working with you, I didn’t realise that I could get the things I wanted from life from outside of work, I thought it all had to come from my career.”
2. Where do you currently spend your time?
How much time do you devote to work related activities?
How much time do you spend on the other things you have identified to be important to you?
Write it down and notice what comes up for you. Is there a misalignment between what you say is important and where you spend your time?
3. What needs to change to ensure you spend time on the things that matter to you?
Now that you have identified the areas of your life where you want to devote more time, you need to take action to allow you to do this.
Full disclosure, this is easier said than done.
It is easy for me to tell you “Block your diary and do not allow any more calls after 5.30pm so that you have the evening to focus on your family.”
The reality is that you will get requests to attend meetings after 5.30pm, which (apparently) you and only you can attend. Without your vital input, the team will never be able to solve the problem at hand. This is when the academic exercise of blocking time in your diary moves to the real world, where you will need to fiercely guard your boundaries.
At this point, my clients find it particularly helpful to have my support. They appreciate the ongoing accountability that comes from working with me to make sure they are practicing what they have decided is important to preach.
There will be times when they aren’t able to hold that boundary for themselves. When this happens, we have a conversation about why it happened and what they will need to do differently the next time a similar situation arises. There will be times they hold their ground and fiercely protect their time. Then we break out the metaphorical champagne to acknowledge and celebrate their success.
There is no magic wand. I can’t help you to stop caring so much overnight. But little by little, step by step, we will make progress.
My clients increasingly have more of the things that they want in their life. They still care about their work but it’s not the focal point and the only driver of their identity.
If you are ready to get some perspective and stop caring so much about your work, feel free to book in my diary to talk about Career Coaching – I’d love to help you – you can book a call here.
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