One of my recent blog posts was aptly named Unbalanced. In this post I wrote about how over time your work life can go terribly wrong in the sense that it becomes your whole life. While for some people this may be fine, but for me it was a form of hell on earth. Much like addictions this working all the time lifestyle creeps up on you over time. In Unbalanced I mentioned there were three options:
- Accept and Adapt
- Do Nothing
- Extricate yourself from the situation
I chose number one, allowing a little acceptance and making some adaptations. First off let me say I am a huge fan of Buddhism, Stoicism, Yoga, and meditation; practicing each of these on a daily basis. The problem is no matter how much you read or spend time meditating you cannot escape the chaos that often ensues on a daily basis during your work day. I’m not saying that it doesn’t help, but it cannot by itself save you. You might be saying well your the Stoic Buddhist, so what the hell! My response is don’t stop your practice, in the end it will improve all aspects of your life, but it only marginally helps you deal with some shit show at work.
Well as I mentioned I choose door number one to practice some acceptance for the situation and then make a few adaptations so that I might make things more bearable.
Essential Meaning of adaptation
1: something that is adapted especially: a movie, book, play, etc., that is changed so that it can be presented in another form. His stage adaptation of the novel was a success.The film is an adaptation of a book of the same title.
2: a change in a plant or animal that makes it better able to live in a particular place or situation. The insect’s evolutionary adaptations enable it to be almost invisible even when sitting in the middle of a leaf.
3: the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation : the process of adapting a tool designed for easy adaptation
I would suggest that number two and three apply in this case. With acceptance you begin to achieve number two, allowing you to better live in a particular place or situation. While acceptance is awesome you also need to actively manage the situation. So making some changes to the way you approach your work allows you to adapt to the situation much easier.
Well all this leads us to adapting the way you approach this situation, in this case your workaholic tendencies and ways to alleviate the negative narrative you have about it.
- If you start with I expect nothing and accept everything you relieve yourself of trying to control it all and stop judging it as a negative experience. Lets face it there are a lot of things that are out of our control and when we worry, resent, become angry, or provide any kind of emotional response to these situation we are opening the door for more suffering.
- Another method that helps you adapt to all the annoying shit at work is to stop giving a fuck about everything. If someone says something demeaning or criticizes your work you can get upset and at the time if might deeply offend you, but you really don’t know their motives and in many ways you should not give a fuck. Save your energy for the things you really care about and stop letting all the other crap make you crazy.
- The last little tip that helped me was to set some limits around your free time. This might include not attending every meeting you are invited to, or getting the administrative stuff done on Friday so you don’t have to work on the weekend. Look for ways to begin balancing work with your personal time. You might even take a day off now and then. We all think what we do is so important and without us the world will come to the end and your project will fail without your 24 hour a day monitoring. Once you realize that none of this is true, you begin to give yourself some freedom and the job that was killing you no longer seems so daunting.
When it is all said and done your job is really not all that important and you are not that important to your employer. Maybe what is important to you is doing quality work that you enjoy or realizing your efforts at work are contributing to your family. Find those 2 or 3 things you really value and let those provide some level of satisfaction. As I’ve mentioned before when you start caring about everything you are on the road to becoming a workaholic and ultimately experiencing burnout.
If you just can’t adapt and the situation at work is not improving you can always find a way to exit. This might mean taking another position in your own company, or asking for a different assignment, and if all else fails finding a new job. In this job market anyone with the right skills is now calling the shots and there are a lot of opportunities to be found. Remember self torture by trying to endure a situation beyond a reasonable amount of time is not your best choice.