I’m so grateful that I don’t have to get on a tube, eat at my desk, miss my gym classes, stay late or work on the weekend. Work and I have been going steady for a while and I’d say we’re hitting it off. What’s your relationship to work like? Does it own you like a caged animal obeying its master? Are you being pulled into its seductive bosom at the promise of more holiday, bonuses and promotions?
Having been somebody who was addicted to achieving, (achieving is good but being addicted to something…not so good) enjoying the high of production and the comfort of allowing myself to relax as a reward for hard work, I’m now in ‘slave to my work’ recovery. I move to my own rhythm. Which by the way, means yoga in the morning, pancakes for breakie, 30 mins of meditation, around 5 hours of work, long lunches, dentist and doctors appointments when I need them and weekends (or mid weeks) away whenever I please.
We all need to make a living but what are you giving up in return? Check out the 12 warning signs I’ve put together in today’s blog and challenge yourself to make a few tweaks in your work life, so that’s not all you have.
1. You check your phone for emails as soon as you wake up
SITUATION: Before you’ve even lifted your head off the pillow you roll over and pad around for your phone. You’re just going to check the time then before you know it, you’re opening your emails and replying to someone while you’re still in bed.
TWEAK: Get an alarm clock and leave your phone downstairs, not only will that be better for your sleep but it will mean you refrain from checking emails until breakfast time.
LIFE BACK: 10%
2. You find you have nothing else to talk about except for work
SITUATION: You’re at a wedding, which is rare because you had to politely decline the last two “I’m just too busy at work” and for the first time in ages you’re meeting lots of new people. The first question you ask everybody is “What do you do?” This is a safe bet because you know they’ll probably ask it back, which for you, makes for comfortable conversation.
TWEAK: Try swapping “What do you do?” for “Tell me about yourself”. This broadens the conversation and since people normally ask the same question back, it challenges you to talk about other elements of life. Do some preparation before you go so that you don’t slip back into work chat.
LIFE BACK: 5%
3. You cherish your job title because it empowers you
SITUATION: You’ve turned down a number of social engagements this month and for a moment you feel sorry for yourself. You don’t get to have the fun others do but then they don’t have a job title like yours. It makes you grow a few inches thinking about it, as you begin to convince yourself that fun is over rated.
TWEAK: Ask yourself why you need that title so much. How much of a void is it filling for you? Try not to let your job title define you. Challenge yourself to find 10 things, qualities or strengths that are not work related and define yourself by those.
LIFE BACK: 25%
4. You don’t think twice about doing ‘a few emails’ on the weekend
SITUATION: After you’ve been to the gym on the weekend you always sit and do a few hours work, just so that you feel like you can let yourself off for the day.
TWEAK: Leave your laptop at work and put an auto responder on your emails. Say that you’re experiencing a heavy work load and you’ll get back within 48hrs. Always ask yourself can it wait 24hrs? What if you didn’t have to earn being relaxed?
LIFE BACK: 10%
5. The only time you relax is the time that you pay for
SITUATION: You’ve had a really hectic week at work with a lot of travel. You’re really looking forward to the massage you’ve booked in on Saturday. This proves that you have balance and you treasure the permission it gives you to relax.
TWEAK: You need sofa time, reading time, just time with nothing to do but to potter. At the beginning of the month schedule empty blocks of time for just seeing how you feel and going with the flow.
LIFE BACK: 30%
6. The only socialising you do is with clients
SITUATION: On paper you’ve had a great month. Lots of travel and some of the best restaurants, except it’s only been with clients and now you’re too shattered to socialise with your friends.
TWEAK: Start delegating more. Select a colleague that can do more of the entertaining. Each time you do that, make sure you book something in with family or friends.
LIFE BACK: 20%
7. Most of the time that you’re awake you’re at work
SITUATION: You might as well live at work. You leave late with an hour to relax before you sleep and then you’re straight back to work in the morning.
TWEAK: Ask for some days where you work from home. You’ll gain time without the journey to work, allowing extra minutes in bed or to go to the gym. With technology today, this is easy
LIFE BACK: 40%
8. You can’t wait for your retirement so that you can start living
SITUATION: You regularly day dream about what you will do when you retire. You feel like that will be the golden age because you will be able to travel the world and feel free
TWEAK: Who knows what the future holds, you may not be here or you may have ill health. Life is for living now, quit the day job and travel the world, ask for a sabbatical and do a course or better yet, start working for yourself and do what you want, when you want.
LIFE BACK: 100%
9. Being the last to leave work makes you feel good about yourself
SITUATION: It’s nearing the end of the day and you finished what you needed to do ages ago but you won’t let yourself leave because you must be seen to be the last. This gives you a sense of achievement and permission to think you’ve done enough.
TWEAK: Become a role model for others in the office and leave on time. Realise that you become a better worker by giving yourself the rest you need and that you’re only making people feel bad by always staying late
LIFE BACK: 45%
10. You don’t get to do the things that you want to do
SITUATION: You’ve just seen your diary for the month and you’re away with work nearly every weekend. There are a couple of friends birthdays you have to say no to. If you let it, it would bother you but you choose to send an expensive gift to make yourself feel better
TWEAK: Take a look at your priorities. Soon you’ll be really distant from your friends and begin to feel alone. How do your friends make you a better, stronger and happier person? Start saying no at work and yes to having a life
LIFE BACK: 60%
11. You never seem to have any money
SITUATION: You’re always under stress so you deserve to treat yourself to what you want. In the short time you do have free you shop because when you see the expensive things you’ve bought; it makes you feel like it’s worth it. However this does mean that your bank balance says zero at the end of month.
TWEAK: Try doing some yoga or meditating to lower the stress so that you don’t feel like you need to remedy it. Better yet, get out of a job that stresses you out. You’ll find that you don’t need as much stuff or money because you’re happy
LIFE BACK: 90%
12. You’ve not learnt anything new outside of work
SITUATION: You’d love to learn a language, to dance salsa, how to do deep tissue massage or create a raw diet but you think everyone has these dreams, it doesn’t mean you get to do them.
TWEAK: Choose one thing that you really want to do, book it and ask a friend to hold you accountable to doing it. Don’t think you’ll wait till you’re not busy because it won’t happen. Doing something out of work will make you more productive and happier.
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