Are You Working Too Hard?

20th May 2014

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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius

Are you working hard or are you a workaholic? 

There’s a difference. A distinction. And sometimes a fine line.

Do you work long hours and still, find time to hang out with family and friends. Engage in doing stuff you love. The joys and miracles of a life fully lived.

Or, is your work it? An obsession. Your life. That in the absence of little else, has you thinking of nothing else, but your work.

It could be said that working hard moves from love. While workaholism is driven from fear.

I have done both!

Some years ago I got promoted into a role I’d coveted for sometime from two rungs down. Initially ecstatic, it didn’t take long for self-doubt and fear and old not good enough stories to kick in.

As a prone to be perfectionist and over-achiever, with independent spirit, failure and asking for help was not an option!

In the absence of self-belief, the only thing I knew to do was to work hard. Overly. Obsessively. To the exclusion of most everything else.

Of that time, I still taste the fear. Recall 3am wake-ups soaked in it. Feel my heart pumping throat side. While ever-present acidic anxiety burnt my belly.

Looking back, I see that having not seen myself as deserving, worthy and capable of promotion resulted in ever-justifying my position. And, in doing so working from a constant state of fear.

I feared I’d make mistakes. Be criticised. Let others’ down. Not meet expectations. Not be successful. And, finally being outed as a big fat fraud, fired! A shame too great to bear.

No soul or love at work here. Just a lot of over-thinking egotistical, self-sabtoging, narcissistic mania!

I’d been a fear driven over-achiever who’s desire to shine bright, burnt a little too bright to stay alight.

On resigning, came a deep sense of loss. A realisation of  starving myself of joy. Of fun and lightness. Of time with loved ones. Of replaceable time doing the things I desired and loved.

Now I work hard. Loving what I do. Loving life. Mostly!

I’m forever mindful, that once a workaholic, I’m only ever one-small-step away… Its the go for the recovering addict.

So when I take a step too close I…

  • take note and, action
  • re-review and re-priotise my values
  • re-connect to things that bring love, joy and peace
  • set time limits – starts and finishes
  • negotiate deadlines
  • make dates with friends
  • adopt an abundant mindset
  • give gratitude
  • study and read
  • trust my talents and strengths are enough
  • spend time in nature
  • increase yoga and meditation

and… practice generous, self-compassion, love and forgiveness.

Working hard and smart, comes from love. A positive, meaningful contribution to humankind.

Being a workaholic comes from fear. It serves, only, your ego-self.

Even, in these times of working harder. Longer. Hours and years. You get to chose.

Make it a healthy one! One from the heart. And soul.