Many of us have been led to believe that working long hours is the key to achieving success. I held onto this belief for many years. In reality, studies routinely show that people who work sixty or more hours per week tend to be more unhealthy, careless and detached than people who work forty hours or less. Today’s message may not be popular with those who believe long hours guarantee success but I know it will be well received by spouses, children or friends of anyone who has become addicted to working long hours.
For years, I worked long hours, traveled for business, tied my self worth to being able to out perform others and I failed to nurture my personal relationships. Three years ago, I contracted Valley Fever (Google it). For the next two and a half years, I experienced a limited amount of physical energy and was only able to work an average of 20-25 hours a week. Because I was unable to predict how I would feel on any given day, I stopped facilitating live seminars, workshops and retreats which in turn caused a significant drop in my income. I became increasingly frustrated and angry that my energy level didn’t allow me to play the game I was accustomed to playing. In order to experience a sense of significance, I began to focus on accomplishing 3-5 income producing tasks each day, tasks that when completed would move my practice forward. Knowing I only had a 3-4 hour window to complete my 3-5 tasks forced me to develop stronger time management skills.
During the last three years, working an average of 20-25 hours per week, I have been able to create and launch several new seminars and coaching workshops that I now facilitate via teleconferencing. I created a business course that I sell on line, launched a blog and I have written and published two books. Looking back, I continue to be amazed at the amount of time I wasted (prior to my illness) on inconsequential tasks that I convinced myself were of immense value. Today, I am at 90% strength yet continue to employ the 3-5 task strategy 5 days a week. I am enjoying new levels of personal happiness and business prosperity. I make it a priority to set aside time each day to re charge my mental and emotional batteries. You may be thinking to yourself, how is it possible to work fewer hours and be more productive? The answer is… FOCUS. Determine what it is you desire to accomplish and then go after it with determination and laser FOCUS.
3 SUGGESTIONS FOR REDUCING WORK RELATED STRESS…
1. Stop trying to be the office hero! Overwhelming ourselves with “extra projects” or routinely volunteering to spearhead tasks that we simply don’t have the bandwidth for will eventually backfire on us! Over extending ourselves will predictably lead to carelessness and burn out. Focusing on our top 3-5 income producing tasks and delivering consistent results is the best way to receive the recognition we deserve.
2. Work 8 hours (or less) per day. Over the years, I have counseled numerous clients who deeply regret not making family and friends as important as their work. I recently spoke with a client who had just ended his third marriage on the heels of completing his second stint at a rehab facility. “I let work become my entire life. Over the last twenty five years, slowly but surely, I lost everything that truly mattered. I turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with work stress and in the end it made it even worse”. As an entrepreneur, I understand that in any new career or start up venture long hours are the norm. With that being said, once we get established, it’s important to take control of our career or business rather than allowing it to control us. FOCUS is the key. The old saying…”work smarter not harder” is sage wisdom.
3. Take all the time off you can. I always encourage my friends and clients to use all of their vacation days, sick days, holidays and any other time that is afforded them. Far too many employees feel “guilty” for taking time off. In many cases, employees are afraid to use their “paid vacation time” because they fear it will hurt them in their quest for a promotion or could be a reason they are let go. If you work in an environment where you fear using your vacation time…FIND ANOTHER JOB! If you are an employer I encourage you to HONOR your employees by encouraging them to take time off. Rested, re charged employees are far more productive than their counterparts. This advice also holds true for the business owner. Our creativity is thwarted when we are mentally and emotionally taxed. FOCUS on your mental and emotional health, your worth the investment!
There you have it! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
Defining “angry giver”. An “angry giver” is a person who routinely puts their needs on the back burner in order to “please” others. On the surface it sounds quite noble but in reality it is an emotionally destructive behavioral pattern.
The “angry giver” tends to go ten extra miles at work. They volunteer to lead projects, plan events, come in without pay on their days off and are viewed as the go to person for everything nobody else has time to do. On the surface the “angry giver” desires to be seen as the ultimate team player, however, below the surface they harbor resentment, feel guilty, cast judgement and regret never having enough time to get their own work done. When asked how everything is going they will smile and say…”I’m a team player, and this sure is a great team to be on”. Inside they are oozing pissed off because of their inability to say NO.
At home, the “angry giver” does everything for everyone. They work “tirelessly” to ensure that everyone’s needs are met. After all, “my family would be lost without me”. To the “angry giver” meeting everyone’s needs is an expression of “love”. In reality it is extreme co-dependent behavior. THOUGHT: “Feed a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. When we do everything for our spouse or kids we are failing to teach them self reliance. In essence we are saying to them…YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE. Children, especially, must develop a sense of self sufficiency in order to grow their self esteem. I have a client who still cooks all her son’s meals, does his laundry and drives him to and from school. FYI…He is scheduled to start college next fall. Is this extreme need to be needed helping or hurting her son?
The “angry giver” routinely engages in activities they really don’t enjoy in order to please people who could really care less. “Going along to get along” is a common way of being for the “angry giver”. In social settings it is not uncommon for an “angry giver” to smile and proclaim what a wonderful time they are having when in reality they would prefer to be doing something they actually enjoy. The “angry giver” is the undisputed champion of implicit communication. THOUGHT: IF YOU DON’T DIG IT, DON’T DO IT! In other words, start doing things that you enjoy, opposed to doing what you believe others expect you to do.
WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US! 4 Tips From A Recovering “Angry Giver”.
1. Learn to say NO. We must establish our boundaries and put OUR needs first. When we put OUR needs and priorities first, something interesting happens….WE HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME & ENERGY TO SERVE OTHERS IN A TRULY JOYFUL MANNER.
2. Become SELF CENTERED. It’s time to prioritize our desires and needs. During our time as an “angry giver” we taught everyone how to treat us. We taught them that our time was not valuable, that their needs were more important than ours and that it was all right to be taken advantage of at work or in business. We must now introduce these people to our new way of being. Trust me, you will meet a great deal of resistance in the beginning. Being SELF CENTERED means we are grounded in our authentic self. It has nothing to do with being selfish.
3. Delegate. There is no award given to the “sucker” who does everything for everyone at the expense of their own career or personal relationships. (This includes the relationship we have with ourselves) For example, when we learn to delegate household chores or assignments at work we are holding others capable. Most people, when held capable, rise to the occasion. Try it, you’ll like it!
4. STOP over extending yourself. We don’t need to simultaneously be the classroom parent, HOA board member, fundraising chair and the social director at our church. In most cases, it is our quest for significance that causes us to over extend. Remember, the more activities we are engaged in the less time we have for ourselves. Over time this will cause many of us to become “angry givers”. I always encourage my clients to volunteer for things that they are passionate about but to set a limit of no more than two at any one time. This helps us keep our lives in perspective.