Do You Work Too Hard?

06th October 2014
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I love my work. I really do!

Yet lately, it felt my work had morphed in to something else. Heavy, hostile and hungry. An addiction. Longer hours. Harder work. Struggle and sacrifice. Creept ever closer. Stealth like. Insidiously.

It could be said I’ve a predisposition to this particular addiction. Mother worked until she passed away at 72. My father continues do so at 80.

Employed or self-employed their work, predominantly, measured and remunerated in units of hours. Of input rather than output.

That was their way. Their fathers’ way. The crude controlled exchange of labour for wages required to fuel the fervour of the industrial age.

With it came Taylorism’s scientific management. Employees’ worth, status and wealth measured and determined by efficiency, title and output. Two distinct camps – white collar. Blue collar.

Starting work at 13, I run three jobs, all paid hourly. Seeing my mother work long, long hours on commission. It appeared that hard work and extended hours were the key to, and measure of success. Career and financial.

You had to earn it. Deserve it. Easy wasn’t an option. Easy was shameful!

At 4.27am on  the 11th of August 2014 I wrote the last sentence of Hiring for the Future. It was the second consecutive all-nighter! The end of a busy ten week schedule of writing, recruiting and consulting.

I’d pushed myself, with misplaced pride hard, beyond what I’d imagined capable with the promise I’d take time out. Rest. Recharge. Be rather than do.

I didn’t! So caught up in doing. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know what else to do but work. Addiction had claimed its unflincing grip.

And, then I crashed. My body screaming, ‘no more.’ Depleted and depressed finally it had my attention. Demanding rest and reflection.

I saw how small my life had become. That I cried more than laughed. And my thoughts and actions weren’t creating the life I wanted. The one I’d dreamt of.

It is said, that our victim self finds justification and safety in our inherited belief systems. And that we take on, and make our own, the thoughts and ideas of our family and the people we hang out with most.

When we move away from this adopted unconscious thinking and move towards conscious thinking we can create the life we want.

We can throw off outmoded and limiting beliefs and realise our potential. Our dreams.

Free of others’ views, expectations, should do’s and not’s we get to connect with our true self. Creating intentions and actions that are right for us and propel us ever closer to our purpose. Without fear of what others think.

With this in mind that I stopped…

1. Constant doing. And permitted myself to do nothing but be. To hang out inwards. Practice sitting in stillness. Silence. No where to go. Nothing to do.

2. Punishing myself and forgave myself for pushing beyond my resources in a desire to look good. Be considered worthy and successful, in the eyes of others.

3. Comparing myself with others and instead paid attention to my gifts. My unique way of being. I blessed and gave gratitude for all I had. Musing at my foibles and eccentricites!

4. Working every weekend, instead I re-connected with the things I love to do. Being in nature. Writing, simply for the art of it. Reading fiction. Music. Dance. Being with friends. In doing so I reconnected to my self. My heart and soul.

5. Mediating as I had done with a single mantra. I gave myself permission to explore other ways. I found variety. Visualisation. And increased practice served better. I became calmer, more present and lighter Responding rather than reacting.

Next time when the addiction to over-work raises its seductive head I hope to be ready. And to be conscious and  courageous to see it for what it is. The ego’s need to do. To impress. Succeed. Compare and compete!