Maximize your career with work life harmony.
All your life, you might have been have been told that in order to have an amazing career you need to go to school, work hard, go to a good college and land an entry level job with a great company. Then you work even harder and climb that ladder, or maybe start a company, in order to achieve success which somehow will manifest itself with more money and some level of happiness. And somehow, it all ends happily ever after. Well, how is it possible then that two-thirds of people working are suffering from some kind of job burnout?
A recent Gallup study completed in July, 2018 of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23 percent reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. The study found this comes with a staggering cost as job burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending each year and has been attributed to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol and even death for those under the age of 45.
According to the study, unfair treatment at work, unreasonable deadlines, unmanageable workload, lack of support from managers and the added stress from having to respond to emails and texts during off hours are primary drivers of job burnout. Unless you are working on the cure for world peace, aids or cancer, don’t take yourself so seriously. Here are seven insights to help you better enjoy work and life.
It’s not about work/life balance but harmony. We all hate the work/life balance question, and honestly, it may not be about the balance but a sense of harmony that you can create. The first caveat is that you have to love what you do for work. Then it becomes easier to create a synergistic harmony if you actually feel work is not work but something you actually like doing. So, you can go to the conference or client meeting in New York and then go for a run in Central Park. I never found life/work balance in my career but I found harmony in what I was doing with my career and family.
Know when to back off. It’s not how many hours you work, it’s the quality of those hours. Know this: the work will always be there tomorrow. Do a good job today and be happy with that and then go home, workout, meet with friends and ultimately when you go to bed, sleep like a baby. All because you know when enough is enough; you are confident in your work and you know it’s there again tomorrow. So, when you leave work, shut if off.
You don’t create happiness, you find it. There is no such thing as a perfect world, a perfect family or a perfect career. Life has a way of throwing some chaos your way and so be comfortable with what you are doing and where you are on the journey of your life. Don’t expect happiness to come your way just because you deserve it. You need to create it. Find the moments to spend with someone special. Nurture your friendships, do the little things that make you feel happy. And don’t ruin those moments with any feelings of guilt. Be slightly selfish and be happy on purpose.
Don’t just sit there, travel. Traveling is one of the best ways to avoid burnout and refresh your perspective. You don’t need to take long trips. Three to four days here and there are fine. I often combined business with fun like meeting a client in Scottsdale, Arizona then riding a horse through the National Saguaro park the next day. If you really want to change your perspective, travel to another continent and slow down and observe how other people live and work. A new point of view always makes you more knowledgeable and you could learn to slow down and and savor a raspberry filled crepe as you walk the streets of Paris.
Use your hobby to recharge. You can’t work at a 100 miles an hour every day, and besides, where are you going? Your working career will probably last 40 years. So figure out how to blend hobbies into your life so that you can relax and treat your mind and body well. I like to garden and play tennis. Gardening is so freeing to me and I lose all sense of time. Tennis just gives me a great workout, and win or lose, I love the game and the friends I have made. Find and nurture your hobbies as they are more important then you think for your mental and physical health.
Use your calendar to schedule free time. Early in my career, I was approaching burnout. Working 90 hours per week, no end in sight to countless tasks. My first mentor noticed and pulled me aside one day and simply said, put one hour of free time per day into your calendar, 30 minutes at a time. I asked, for what? He said for your mental health. I have been blocking time into my calendar for meetings I don’t actually have for the past 30 years. It gives me the gaps I need to take a walk, relax, catch my breath or simply slow down and think better.
Nurture and build a great team. My third mentor taught me the power of teams and letting go. As we were building our company, I tried to control everything and everybody. As a result, we did not achieve as much as we could have. Once I started to really believe in teams and hire people smarter than me, our regional offices and company flourished. I worked half of the hours and still got the credit as our company accelerated. So, I passed the praise and rewards onto the team. Guess what happened? They worked even harder and smarter to show their loyalty. Avoid burnout by ultimately building great teams and letting them run.