From Workaholic to a Balanced Human Being

In my work as a coach, my clients often tell me they are  workaholics, constantly trying to catch up on work at home just to stay in the game. Many fear that the only way to remain competitive is to sacrifice their free time to work more hours. This time of year, with the holidays putting extra pressure on both our work and home lives, it can become painfully clear that your work/life balance is off kilter.

Many clients also tell me that their organizations actually frown on people who stick to a 40-hour schedule, and that the promotions and good assignments go to those who come in early and stay late. Workaholism is a badge of honor.

It’s even worse among entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals.  Many start-up businesses encourage overwork and long hours, including nights and weekends. A culture of being at the cutting edge in an innovative business and peer pressure makes it hard to say “no.”

Michael Grothhaus of FastCompany writes about Lucy Kirkness, a confessed ex-workaholic and founder of her own SEO and digital marketing consultancy, Little Digitalist. Kirkness bought into the typical fears that pervade the entrepreneur and startup worlds, including the myth that you have to work day and night just to get ahead.

Along with three other workaholics, Kirkness decided to shift priorities in order to find a way to thrive in professional life by setting work/life boundaries. Here is some advice from these ex-workaholics on how to work less and still get ahead:

  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” to clients
  • Trust that taking time to switch off completely will ultimately benefit you
  • Talk to your friends and family about your feelings regarding work
  • Learn to delegate tasks to others

Have you experienced a workaholic culture at work, where overworking was expected of you? What about where you work now? Are you expected to arrive early or stay late? Are those who work “9 to 5” less likely to be viewed as team players?

What do you do to keep healthy work/life boundaries? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me via my website, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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