Has work taken over your life? It’s time to realize you are not your career.
“Many people let their career become their identity versus part of who they are. When they allow themselves to make this shift, balance is lost, anxiety and stress increases, and the person often becomes overwhelmed,” explains Dr. Nikki Martinez, a psychologist, licensed clinical professional counselor, and life coach.
Of course, everyone wants to get ahead at work and that often means working harder and longer. But while your work-life may blossom, other things in your life may suffer–even your health. “Negative side effects are stress, anxiety, physical illness, depressions, withdrawal from things you once enjoyed. As you can see, it can take a real toll on you physically and emotionally,” Martinez points out. “It is essential to make this disconnection for your own well being. It can impact your health in many ways, and it can impact your relationships. When work is all you think about and talk about to a partner, he or she will start to become resentful as well. Your partner may have long passed the point of feeling like he or she can help you, but the person keeps speaking about the same issues.”
If you are wrapped up in work, you may not notice your lack of life balance. Take some time to re-examine your life. Look for signs. “One sign is that you are no longer engaged at home or in the marriage. Work is more exciting,” says career coach Elizabeth Lions. “Also, if you constantly monitor email on late nights, early mornings and weekends, telling yourself you don’t want to miss anything and you think about work before going to sleep, then it defines you. Your identity is wrapped up in it.”
One way to create a life-work balance is to make a schedule and stick to it. “You can go old school. Make a weekly planner and map out your week…what is due and when. This will keep you on track. Prioritize! Decide what really needs to be done, and what can be delegated. Make sure you keep a to-do list including priorities for the day, phone calls and emails that must be answered. If you complete the tasks of each day, you start fresh the next,” suggests Martinez.
Find a hobby. Ask yourself what you are interested in besides work? If no hobbies come to mind, find one. Look at the hobbies that you do engage in. Do they cross over to work?
“For example, if you are in a running club, do you meet people and talk about work?” says Lions who adds that people should stop talking about work outside of work.
Set boundaries. Stop taking on too many extra projects, taking work home all the time, and working late when you are needed at home. “Set clear boundaries around when you are ‘on’ and working and when you are ‘off’,” advises Ebonie Allard, the Entrepreneur Enabler. “Turn the notifications off on your phone.”
In the long run, your career might actually thrive. When you are happy at home, you are more focused at work.
Concludes Allard, “When you separate your personal life from your career, you will actually have better ideas, perform better, enjoy your work and your personal life more as you will be more engaged and have new experiences to draw from.”