This is my view as I write to you today.
And even though things are not perfect in my life right now, I feel immensely grateful.
I feel so grateful that I am able to explore this beautiful island whilst the sun shines.
I am grateful for all the events and experiences in my life that have led me to this very moment, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with you.
Whilst in Orkney, I have continued to serve my Coaching Clients and I love that I have the freedom and flexibility to do so. But I just can’t help but reflect on how things have changed.
In the past, I did nothing much else but work. My career mattered above all else. I loved it. In fact, I kid you not but there was a time where I was required (by my employer and as a newly appointed Company Director) to go through a very thorough medical. And, after a full morning of questions and tests, the doctor informed me that he would be preparing a prescription and ordered me to take immediate action.
He told me I was not to return to the office that day, but rather I was to go straight home….. and book a holiday.
The doctor had been listening intently and diligently making notes as I answered all of his questions regarding my regular work-day/week etc. According to him, my approach to work, my devotion to it, and my determination to ‘get everything done’ meant that I should be dead… or at least, well on my way. I was only 34!
I can remember this incident so clearly. After all of his questions had been answered, the doctor conducted a very extensive series of tests to assess my physical well-being. When they were completed, he sat me down…. The way you live your life – it’s not good. Based on what you have described to me, I would expect you to display physical signs of stress. Possibly elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, ulcers etc but I have tested for all and none of those things are present.
From what I can see, the only thing saving your life right now is your positive outlook on life. And whilst this is highly commendable, it is not sustainable. Please Linda – you have to make some changes to your lifestyle.
And that’s what prompted him to write the prescription.
I took his advice and I went home, spent some time on-line and then booked my first ever trip to Le Sport – a luxury spa in St Lucia. An all-inclusive offering that includes one spa treatment each and every day. It was fabulous. So incredibly relaxing. I can’t say that I did much to address my work-life balance at the time – but the spa break became an annual event and so I always knew that I would have the time each year fully restore/replenish.
And so it is mind-blowing to me when I compare my life then to my life now. I am writing my blog by the side of a loch, I work nowhere close to the 60-70 hours per week of the past and yet I am transforming lives.
These days, I take more care of me. Physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Now if you are reading this, then I am fairly sure that what you do – your career – matters to you too. Its more than ‘just a job’.
But there are times when work can take over in unhealthy ways and if you are working so much that it’s hurting your relationships with those outside of work or if you’re becoming physically or emotionally unhealthy, it’s time to take some action.
STOP THE CLOCK
Before you can cut back to more manageable work levels, you have to know what that means. If you’ve been routinely working to the exclusion of most other things in your life, you may have lost your sense of what it feels like to work a reasonable amount of time or to know when you’ve done “enough” for the day and can resist that ‘just-one-more-thing’ urge to keep going. Set a deadline of when to leave the office and switch off from all work-related activity.
Assuming your manager isn’t at the heart of your overwork, reach out to him or her to define clear expectations. Take some time to plan the day in advance, defining three or four goals and setting aside time blocks for each to get them done. Be sure to allow for some down time in case you have an urgent demand, or your task takes longer than anticipated.
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR REAL MOTIVATION IS
Sometimes, the motivation to work too much comes from being afraid or feeling trapped. Are you feeling trapped? Do you feel like you lack choice? Some people are so afraid of losing their jobs that they feel compelled to work unreasonably hard just to retain the job they are in.
If fear is ruling your work life, you need to examine why and take steps to change it, such as setting better boundaries or even seeking out a new role that doesn’t have you living this way.
SHOW YOURSELF WHAT YOU ARE MISSING
Every time you say “yes” to working beyond what’s comfortable or reasonable, you’re incurring an opportunity cost. Sometimes, it’s a price you’re happy to pay, such as when you’re engrossed in a key project. But if you are constantly grinding it out with little joy, missing out on other parts of your life, and damaging your relationships, you need to look at the true cost of your sacrifices.
REWORK BAD HABITS
Sometimes, we work too much out of habit. Seek something outside of work that you enjoy. Go to the gym, learn to dance, develop a new skill. But be aware…. Once you start to make progress in reallocating your time to activities other than work, it can be easy to slip back into old patterns and fill quiet time by working later, compulsively checking your smartphone, or retreating to your home office. You have to turn off the constant stream of information, at least for short periods of time.
WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
Of course, one way to work less is to get more done in the same time. We all have times of day where we’re more productive than others. Work on keeping your more focus-intensive work for these “on” times. If you do your best work before 9am, don’t get lost in FACEBOOK first-thing in the morning and waste that opportunity to get a lot done.
You might feel like you have to check your smartphone all the time, but very few people actually do have such a need. Instead of checking your phone or email every 15 minutes, schedule 2 or 3 times per day and work through them more intensely. This will allow more time to really focus on the other/more critical tasks and to allocate the time necessary to get them done and off the TO DO list.
Take some quiet time every day to reflect on your life and what you want out of it. Silence and reflection are great ways to help you quiet the noise and help you refocus on what you want to in your day and in your life. Try to find a few minutes every day for this practice.
And if you want to invest in restoration, then I can highly recommend LE SPORT in St Lucia – though I must be honest – it’s been a while now since I’ve been.
x Until next time, sending you love x
I would love to get to know you more, connect with me here.