Whatever It Takes
Some would call me a "workaholic", including me at times
Lately I've been examining my motivations when it comes to my work habits and I've reached a conclusion; I like working and the sense of accomplishment when I overcome a hurdle or solve a dilemma. It's a high, so much so I actually do a little dance jig and grin from ear to ear.
Don't get me wrong; I take my downtime.
I know the risks to my health if I overwork; been there, done that, and learned some hard lessons about how stress can physically affect you. Unfortunately it took several surgeries and a lot of recuperation time for me to finally get the message. My work epiphany created another problem when I returned to work and realized that my employer had become accustomed to my workaholic ways and wasn't entirely willing to accept anything less. After a couple of years of trying to find a balance I accepted defeat and left the position.
At first I blamed my employer for forcing the decision on me.
Eventually I came to accept I was just as much to blame as the employer. I started it, I chose the long hours and being available 24/7 and to suddenly change the rules of the game was not entirely fair. There was no transition time, I jumped off the workaholic wagon and expected him and my colleagues to just accept the new me. I didn't handle it well and it was made worse when I would occasionally jump back on that wagon and pull a 60 to 70 hour work week. The real unfairness was when I blamed 'them' for being tired and irritable after pulling those long weeks. Rather than insist on help, rather than sitting down and discussing what duties I would and could delegate, I became angry and resentful. The debate going on in my head was between three fears; the return ill health, my natural tendency for workaholic ways, and...this is hard to admit; the belief that no one could perform my duties as well as me. That last fear is actually the hardest to overcome and I still battle it every day.
My work habits needed to change but to what? And how?
Whatever it Takes:
When I first read that meme my first thought was: "But that's my problem; I'll risk it all, do whatever it takes, to get the job done! That's what put me in that position in the first place." But then I really thought about it.
What if doing Whatever It Takes could incorporate my love of work and what I do while taking care of my own well-being.
My First Step was acceptance. Hello, My name is Pam and I'm a workaholic
The Second Step was/is accepting that others may not do things my way but that doesn't mean they're wrong and therefore their efforts should be appreciated.
The Third Step and this was surprisingly the hardest; getting others to accept that part of who I am and what brings me joy is my work, "the after-glow and satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demands [my] best".
When a metric I've built accomplishes all, if not more, than expected then I'm the gymnast that lands that that difficult tumble, I'm the coder that builds an app that will revolutionize the industry, I'm Michelangelo and I just completed the Sistine Chapel, I'm Henry Ford and I just built 100 cars in the time it took others to build 1.
I shouldn't have to apologize for who I am, and I won't. If I was any of the stars I just listed; I wouldn't have to, but because I work in a corporation and am not an executive I seem to be held to a different standard. I'm supposed to shut down that part of me once I leave the office, I shouldn't think about my job when I'm on 'my time'. But here is the dilemma this workaholic faces every day: Some of my best ideas, solutions, or formulas, come to me when I'm on 'my time'. It's like a writer that suddenly 'sees' the ending that has been eluding them; They MUST write it down. When I relax, and I DO relax, then my mind pushes away all the 'think stress' and I have my eureka moments. My 'work art' involves finding answers, answers that others depend on to do their jobs and if I can find the 'best' answer or 'best' options for the decision makers to make a decision then I have am filled with that "after-glow", I'm invigorated.
Work isn't my whole life but it is a big part of it and when I'm struggling for an idea, contemplating a formula, trying to develop all the metrics my ideas have given rise to; then I'm going to be distracted, contemplative, downright distant, but to accept me is to accept that this is part of who I am; sometimes I live in my head. Be patient and I'll be back.
Hi, my name is Pam and I'm a workaholic sometimes.
And I'm good with that.
Do you have a 'workaholic' in your life? Does that work bring them the joy of accomplishment? Is it 'fun' to them? Do you push them to 'relax' and not recognize that what they are doing does relax them or is it that they can't relax until they know they have resolved a problem?
Then contemplate my Step 2: "others may not do things [your] way but that doesn't mean they're wrong"