Tag: unbalanced

Balance Restored

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:

  1. Accept and Adapt
  2. Do Nothing
  3. 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.

I like this Anthony Hopkins quote as he lets you know that other peoples opinions of you are of no concern, and that expecting nothing and accepting everything may serve you well. While this is a great mantra to live by, it does not preclude you from taking action. This is where the adaptation comes in. This is the Merriam Webster definition of Adaptaption.

adaptation

Essential Meaning of adaptation

1: something that is adapted especiallya 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.

Namaste

Unbalanced

Guess where this is going?

It has been a while, in fact I think my last post was in June. What the hell! The topic for today is unbalanced, which is the reason I haven’t written anything in so long. About six weeks ago I made a decision to take on what became a monumental endeavor at work. The whole thing imploded and became what a friend of mine in the Netherlands calls a shit show. A shit show if you didn’t know is pretty much synonymous with a disaster. What started as a seemingly good idea to up my game and take on a new challenge, quickly eroded into some form of torture. Now I’m no stranger to hard work, but the kind of hours I was putting in became a bit absurd after a while. The first 3 weeks were 75-80 hours per week, including working weekends.

After a few weeks of this, which forced me to skip pretty much all forms of exercise; not only was I mentally drained, but I also wasn’t feeling very well. There is always a fine line between working extremely hard and taking care of yourself and I had crossed the line into burnout land. I’m sure you have experienced this before, when you reach that point almost anything can piss you off. You are so mentally and physically tired that your emotions, not the good ones begin to surface. The worst of it all was I didn’t enjoy any of it. I took a trip to Florida to meet with some of my team mates and our customer, and not once did we go out to eat together. After workshops during the day with my customer, I would go back to the hotel room to work and grab something to eat at Publix or Subway by myself. What I began to realize is that 14-16 hour work days are unsustainable, well least for me.

So why am I telling you all this? It kind of sets the stage for what happened next. It became clear to me that I needed to take back my life, so after about 4 weeks I decided I had enough, took a Friday off and started to limit how much I would work on the weekend. We did bring in some additional help, which allowed me to not be responsible for nearly everything and that certainly helped. The thing is everyone gets to a point where enough is enough, and you figure out ways to scale down the hours or you do yourself serious harm. This is usually a choice unless your in a prison or concentration camp. It wasn’t like I freed myself from the situation, but what I did was make it a bit more manageable. The fact that 8 weeks later it’s still a shit show and I am deeply engaged says something about how stubborn I am or my lack of intelligence.

This kind of sums it up.

You always have a choice to leave the situation, adapt and accept it, or do nothing, but that really doesn’t work except in extremely rare situations where leaving or adapting are not really an option. Doing nothing will just result in burnout and really is a form of self destruction. When I say accept it, I mean you are willing to adapt, but not in a passive way. You have chosen to stay, stick it out, or whatever you want to call it, but with some conditions. Please distinguish between adapting including some acceptance and doing absolutely nothing. If down the line things don’t get better than you need to figure out an exit strategy; life is way to short to stay in a shit show indefinitely.

Namaste