Why You Should Avoid Making Work Your Life

Work is a Strange Bedfellow

Work is the primary method of making a living. It’s how we make money to pay for our necessities. Still, no one should work to excess. Many people complain that they work too hard. But, especially given good pay, rarely does an employee make a substantial change to his work style. If the boss asks, you will usually say yes.

Still, for many, work does become a lifestyle. It's what you think about first when you wake up in the morning. You bring work home to have ready for the next day. If you love your work, you can become a work addict. When you can't see that work has taken control of you, it’s time to re-evaluate your standard of existence.

Here are a few signs that you need to stop making work your life. There is a time every day for a workaholic to go home. There are ways for a workaholic to re-connect with life, friends and family.

You are always tired. Getting out of bed is slow. Every day, you hit the snooze alarm several times. When you get up, you feel sluggish. When everything is quiet at work, or even in your car, you find yourself blinking off to sleep. By Wednesday, nothing you read or write at work makes sense. You can’t think straight because you are fatigued, thoroughly exhausted.

You pride yourself as a hard worker. Still, there is a difference between working hard and creating good results. When you wake up at 11:00 pm, still at your work desk; that is not a power nap. Do you really think you are producing quality work at that time of night?

You need to accept that when you are excessively tired, it’s time to call it a day for work. Put down the extra cup of coffee or energy drink, and go home at a decent hour. Hug your kids.

Your health has gone bad. It's not what it used to be. You catch colds more often, and not just during allergy season. Your weight has changed significantly. Your stomach is constantly in knots from eating bad or fast food all the time.

Your joints and muscles ache, especially your back and shoulders. You often have headaches when that was never a problem. You think it’s just old age catching up with you.

These are signs that you are working your body too much. We sleep to rest our brains. Our body needs time to recuperate every day.

Sleep and moderate exercise are ways to heal the stresses and strains of the day. You treat your computer better than yourself. You need to decrease your work hours. Cut down the 60-80 hour work weeks, and see if your health improves.

You work out of fear of being layed off due to corporate downsizing. So, you work extra hours to stay on top of your work load. You work to keep up with unrealistic deadlines, or are afraid of being demoted or transferred. You need to go home and figure out how to change your work load situation.

Evaluate your work habits. What changes can you make to work smarter instead of harder? Take a class or seminar to get the information you need to be a success. Working to excess can only be so successful if you are working out of fear of losing your job.

Communicate with your supervisor. Ask if he or she can suggest more productive ways for you to accomplish your tasks. Asking for advice is appreciated by a supervisor. What will eventually fail you is working six days a week, 16 hours a day.

Workaholics are Obsessive. One of Benjamin Franklin Rules of Management states, “Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.” When you see work everywhere you go, even at the beach, you have lost the capacity to put work in its proper place. Your ability to be rational and reasonable about rest, time, and place is off-line.

When your friends and family no longer include you in their activities, they have decided to leave you alone with your work obsession. They assume you will not take the time off to participate, so they eventually exclude you from their lives. You need to put work in its own time and place, and re-capture, create and respect family and friend time.

You are the reason not to work too hard. Your co-workers shake their heads as they leave the office every day. They wonder why you don't want to go home.

The Best Reason to Go Home is when you decide there is no reason to go home. Work has become your best friend and comfort. You are most happy when you are at work. You have convinced yourself that it doesn’t matter whether you go home or not. You live alone; or, you have a spouse you don't care to see. When you are home, your children seem to have their own life that no longer includes you.

If you are working to avoid a home that has no more meaning to you, you are living a compulsive and obsessive life, and in denial. Work has replaced what should be a well balanced life. It is now your crutch, your safety net. You are in desperate need of perspective.

If your life is crumbling with friends and close ones because of the time you spend at work, you need a plan. What can or should you change? If you died tomorrow, your boss, your family and friends will mourn your loss. Then they will learn to go on without you. In fact, your boss will hire or promote your replacement within a week of your death.

As the oft repeated quote states, "No one ever died wishing they had worked a little harder."

What are the best ways to avoid making work your life? Rest, reflect, react, respond, and change. Like you do at work, prepare an outline of changed behavior to shift your existence as a person, not a work drone, back into balance. It will take awhile. In the end, you will be happier with your quality of life. Everyone around you will be happier, too.

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Comments 8 comments

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hi, Carolyn! GREAT read. Very informative. Voted up and all across. You, my friend, are very talented. And I am now a fan and follower, Kenneth Avery, from a rural town, Hamilton, in northwest Alabama that reminds people of Mayberry, where Andy and Barney worked.


Carolyn2008 profile image

Carolyn2008 4 years ago from Boston Author

Thank you for your comments. As a former workaholic, I wanted to reflect on how my previous work life affected me and those around me. I am much happier today living a more balanced life.


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

These are excellent tips! I wrote a similar article a few months ago about work and stress as I had a friend who didn't know how to "switch off", and was putting work ahead of her health and her family life. We need to check our personal life at the door when we get to the office, so we should give ourselves and our family the same courtesy and check work in at the door when we arrive home (at an early hour) each day. Thanks for sharing this!


Carolyn2008 profile image

Carolyn2008 4 years ago from Boston Author

Those were really good comments. Thank you.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

As a parent, I make it a point to tell myself that my family is my priority...not my work. My boss may frown at this statement, but that is the truth.


Carolyn2008 profile image

Carolyn2008 4 years ago from Boston Author

There are some who think that working hard every day is making their family a priority by providing for them. It usually results in a sick parent home from exhaustion.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

Hi Carolyn2008,

I used to be like this. But I realized that I have only 1 family and that I can find other jobs that will suit my needs.


Carolyn2008 profile image

Carolyn2008 4 years ago from Boston Author

That's a good attitude!

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