I once had an affair… with my job. It started around 2001 and wasn’t just for a few busy weeks either; it went on for a couple of years. I cheated on my husband and my children, spending a significant amount of time away from them. I cheated them out of a time they should have had with their wife and mother.
My “partner” was available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. “He” was easy to spend time with … and was fun and rewarding. He was at the end of a phone call, at the keyboard or my computer, and anywhere, anytime I wanted. I had full access to my affair. And, over time, I became not only addicted but obsessive. I worked all the time. I was always thinking about work, doing work, and spending time in my office. This obsession fed my self-esteem and my own identification. I was lost without something to do. I thought I was happiest when I was working. I was making things happen.
As with a real affair, the consequences were huge. The cost was very high, my marriage for one, time lost with my kids for another. When the affair ended, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to spend my time. I was lost in my own world.
My family paid the price for this affair, the same way they would have had the affair actually been with a person. I spent time with my job instead of my husband and children. I preferred my office to the family room.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”LZJrb” via=”yes” ]I confess… I had an affair with my job. But now I know how to fix it and get my life back![/ctt]
Even on vacations, I was in contact with my job. I could check my email any time, check my voice mail, and touch base with a client every now and again. I justified it by telling myself if I did all that during a vacation, I could write the vacation off on my taxes! I read the newspaper thinking about my clients. I surfed the internet to find out what was new in my industry. I was in love with what I did, and it occupied my mind constantly.
Does this sound familiar to you? Whether you are self-employed or not. It is incredibly easy to have an affair with your job. Technology assures that you can stay in touch with your work non-stop. Mobile phones, email, laptops, and tablets, along with WIFI everywhere … what are we setting ourselves up for?
If like me, you have difficulties with this issue, I would like to challenge you to change your priorities. Your work will not suffer if you step back a little. My business is more successful now than when I was having an affair with my job. I was so obsessed with what I was doing; I was working hard but not smart. Now that I ration the time in my office and with my job, I have to work smart, because I am unwilling ever to pay this kind of price again.
If you don’t have to check your work email from your home, then don’t. It will still be there in the morning. If you can’t do anything about the voice mail that comes in after hours, don’t even listen to it. It will occupy your mind in the evening, causing you to remove yourself from your family mentally.
Plan to work eight hours a day. That’s all you get paid for, so why work eighteen? Learn to work smart, not just hard. Read a book, take a course, listen to a podcast on working smarter, not harder. Stop assuming that not only is this normal, that it is okay to do it. It is not.
Cut back on the hours you work from home, even if it’s just by thirty minutes a day. When you close the door to your home office, keep the door closed. Lock it. Put a sign on the door that says, “Spending time with my family. Will return in the morning.”
We are all familiar with the “imagine your own funeral” routine. People do not talk about how great you were because you worked all the time, but what you accomplished in your personal life.
If you are really someone who needs to be busy all the time, be busy with your family. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or the local women’s shelter. Visit the elderly in a nursing home (and while you’re there, ask them if they wished they had worked less). Spend time with friends and family.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”22O13″ via=”yes” ]Treasure the gifts you’ve been given, and take care of them.[/ctt]
I love my job. I would be lost without it. But I could replace it with something else. My life is a one-shot deal. I can’t replace it. I can’t replace my family, either. Don’t gamble with our life so you can answer your email or risk your relationships so you can spend more time at the office.
Treasure the gifts you’ve been given, and take care of them.
Article by, Rhonda Scharf