“Find a job you like and you add five days to every week.”
~ H Jackson Brown, Jr
OK, so it may not literally be half of your life in terms of the working hours you are actually paid for, but is that all of the time you spend working, thinking about work or influenced by your work?
For a lot of people time at work may actually equate to half of their waking hours every week – even more for some.
So, if work takes up such a huge part of our lives, what does that mean?
Well, for a start it means that it probably affects other parts of your life more than you perhaps realize. I’m not just talking about not being able to take holidays because you can’t get the time off work, or the times when you have to take work home with you. I mean even those times when you are free to do other things, you don’t need to be at work and you have no work to do – are you completely free of your work?
If, like a lot of people, you have aspects of your work that are difficult or stressful, the answer to the above question is probably ‘No’ – i.e. even when you’re free to do other things, you are not completely free because work is still occupying your thoughts in some way, shape or form.
This is also fine if work is something you like to think about – even if work is something you don’t mind thinking about, then it won’t ‘spoil’ other parts of your life.
However, if work is bothering you more than it should, then you should really think about doing something about it.
The chances are that it is actually affecting you even more than you yourself realize it is. It could be affecting your health. Most people who are stressed don’t really realize how stressed they are or they realize that they are stressed when it’s too late to do anything about it.
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I don’t mean to suggest that everyone who ever had any kind of stress in their work should suddenly take drastic action. The point is about balance. Some people thrive on certain kinds of stress.
Just be careful; some people think that they thrive on being super-efficient in stressful jobs where others may crumble but are a little in denial about what it is actually doing to their own life balance.
Is that true for anyone that you know?
The point of this article is to encourage you to take a look at your own work situation and just honestly assess where you are at.
Do You Have A Healthy Work / Life Balance?
What would you change if you could and what’s stopping you?
You may work long hours and do so because you think you have to or because you think that’s what’s expected of you.
That thought may come from you alone without you realizing it. You may work long hours just because everyone else does (perhaps you are all thinking the same). You may have had days where you wish the boss would go home so that you could? You may think you have to do the work because if you don’t nobody else will…
Do You Enjoy Your Work?
What about when you’re actually at work?
Do you enjoy your work?
Do you like the people you work with?
Are you sufficiently rewarded for your work, whether for you the most important answer to this question comes in terms of recognition, money, results, thanks or whatever else you value?
If not, what would need to change so that you do enjoy your work? Would you need to actually change what you do completely or just aspects of it?
Are There Things You Could Easily Change To Improve Your Situation?
Once you really look at these things objectively you would be amazed at how many things you can actually change to improve your working situation (which could be as simple as a small mental shift to change your attitude towards your work or your relationship with your work).
Often you can make very small, easy changes but which have a big difference – and it starts with just a simple moment to yourself considering your own situation.
Are You Taking For Granted The Good Situation You Already Have?
Perhaps your work situation is really good but you just take it for granted and don’t realize it.
This moment of reflection may be as simple as reminding yourself how lucky you are and just telling yourself to appreciate things more.
Could You Give Yourself A Break From Thinking About Work All Of The Time?
You can also change the impact work has on other areas of your life.
You can choose to be in the moment so that at work, you work; but family time is precious and when you’re with your family, work doesn’t even enter your mind.
You can train your friends and colleagues to respect that ‘rule’ and they’ll probably respect you more for that too.
A related topic which is useful in all walks of life is the idea of mindfulness which is covered in this article: How To Practice The Art of Mindfulness.
Whatever your work situation, given it is probably a large portion of your life, you might as well enjoy it!