When it comes to work, you want to be the best. You learn as much as possible in order to impress, to obtain excellent results and to develop new skills that can recommend you for a promotion or that could help you close high-ticket clients.
So far so good, but you have to keep in mind that it’s one thing to love your work (and be 1000% involved and concentrated on it DURING THE WORK TIME) and it’s another thing to allow work to conquer ALL your time, to get in the way of maintaining your health and break your relationships. When the balance between the personal and professional life is not well defined, YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS, FIGHTING BURNOUT AND WORK ADDICTION.
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion and it can result from working excessive overtime under stress and in a chaotic and toxic environment. It is mostly seen in "I can do everything" personalities. Like all high-achievers, you are deeply passionate about what you do and you often tend to ignore the exceptionally long working hours. You begin to ignore that you have a life to live, a family to enjoy and personal projects to follow.
Being addicted to work is a real thing and it can be a real problem for you, especially if you describe yourself as a perfectionist. Work addiction is mainly characterized by working excessively and compulsively and is often driven by job success.
The symptoms of a workaholic are the same either you work in Finance, Marketing, Politics, Art or Cinema. Many celebrities are fighting this problem too. In their case, this could appear because of their fluctuating schedules and their desire of recognition and applauses. Working long days for weeks/months at a time, and then long periods of not working and wondering when or if they will work again could be the recipe for trouble. Take, for example, celebrities like Michael Crawford, Cher, and Keith Jarret, who were addicted to work and experienced the chronic fatigue syndrome.
Where will it take YOU?
Burnout and work addiction reduce productivity and sap your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give. Beside the fact that you have no limits between your professional and personal life, you will find yourself in one of these three situations:
- Trapped In The Fast Lane To Exhaustion – In the early stages, you may feel a lack of energy and tiredness. Then, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.
- Lost-Identity – Sense of failure, disappointment and self-doubt are emotional signs of burnout and work addiction. Being always at work or thinking about work and not doing the ordinary things that help you create the well-being state of your mind and body, will make you lose your personality. Even identifying yourself with a project can make you lose your own identity.
- Bankruptcy – You have overtime hours, you work from home every evening, and most of your weekends, because you are afraid! You fear that if you stop working, you will have no projects, no clients and no money. So, you work harder and harder, with no respect to your mind, body and energy. But if you keep going on this path, you will soon cross the limit, and you will find yourself stuck! The uncluttered mind, lost direction and lack of focus will bring you face to face with your nightmare: the failure followed by bankruptcy. Remember EASY = BROKE, so break that dangerous cycle now!
8 Dos and Don’ts to get you unstuck
To make it less frightening, I want to share the next 8 Dos and Don’ts that you could use when you find yourself being addicted to BUSY.
- Ask a friend to call you every day at 6pm. This easy practice will create a smooth shift in your routine, and the phone call will be the "work-day-is-off trigger"
- Question your way to clarity and accept you for what you are [download the dedicated Step-by-Step Planning Worksheet from here]
- Get deeper and deeper with your answers. Once you crack the surface you will discover new things you’re not consciously aware of
- Keep a friendly planner and write down plans and ideas to turn into actions, to review or to adapt every month
- Don’t do this alone. If you have a friend suffering from the same exhaustion, ask him to share the journey and its struggles.
- Don’t find excuses for your actions. They are what they are, and you only need to accept them and move on.
- Don’t get embarrassed by your actions, you are a human and you're doing your best every day!
- Undress yourself from other people’s influence on you, from unworthy beliefs or complicated ideas. Build a stronger relationship with yourself by being vulnerable or “naked” (vulnerability is a quality and not a weakness!), and start from there.
Open your eyes and look around for indicators that it’s time to put a stop on it.
When it’s the perfect time for you to have an intervention?
- When your personal relation needs more of your time;
- When your health is giving warning signs;
- When you feel depressed and stuck;
- When you’re not satisfied with your income;
- When you spend time thinking about how you can work more hours each day;
- When you can’t sleep and you find yourself thinking about a particular project or work related discussion.
After analyzing your symptoms and deciding that is time to do something about it, get ready for small changes that free up your time and mind.
Why do I fight against BUSY?
Because I have crossed the limits twice in my life and I know it can destroy your world if you don't take it easy. Here are my two stories on burnout and work addiction:
Back in 2011: My full time job as a junior architect
I was working for a couple of years as a full time employee and loving my job. Apart from the full time job I was also taking freelance projects every evening and weekend. In that period of my life I literally had no space for a hobby and no time to relax. I was constantly experiencing: chronic headaches, body pains – especially indigestion due to the fast meals, depression, anxiety, panic attacks (often during nights because of the sleep deprivation), less focus. I had moments when I was easily to irritate, my personal relationship was suffering as I was discharging all my negative emotions on my partner. I almost stopped seeing my friends, and most of the time when we meet we end up complaining about everything.
Back in 2012 - 2014: My full-time involvement in a startup
It was a dream project that soon became an obsession. I was working on it during the mornings, in the evenings and during the nights. It was everything I was thinking of. I stopped taking care of my personal relationships, stop caring about my health, stop caring about learning new things and keep myself up to date. At the end of the 2 years working on it, I was identifying myself with the project (so I had no personal identity!). My own life was gravitating around this project. There was nothing else that mattered. I even had to relocate for a couple of months, to build the product I had designed for 2 years. So, there was no surprise that I was totally shaken when I had to give up on it, and return home. That was when I realized that I had no life, or identity, or business, and I had no idea what to do next. Or what I wanted to do next. I was even AFRAID to move on with my old design service company, because I gave up on all my clients long ago. So, I had to take it from scratch and start again. REALLY SCARY. Nevertheless, I did manage to grow my design business again.
In order to be aware of your situation, here are the 9 questions to detect the level of overwhelmed and work addiction:
If at least 5 of your answers are YES! then you might be addicted to work
Once you have the answers, challenge yourself by creating a list with 50 reasons why you want to change your lifestyle and brake the burnout and work addiction.
Also, feel free to use the 90-Day Plan to Fight Burnout and Work Addiction, that I have created to help you thorough the process.