Do you like to work hard and long hours? According to the New York Post, recent research shows that “nearly half of employed Americans (48 percent) consider themselves modern-day workaholics.” The New York Post shows that out of the top ten signs of a workaholic, “prioritizing work before my personal life” was first (54%), “worrying about work on a day off” was second (51%), and “struggling to switch off or actually working while on vacation” was third (50%). It seems that working long hours is somewhat a badge of honor
for most working Americans.
I remember learning about getting compensated for your time, but it never processed until my early 30s. A mentor once advised me to remember that my paycheck is calculated based on 40 hours per week. If I am working 70-80 hours a week, that means that I am giving away free time, free money, and free energy. Does that mean I am working two full-time jobs but only getting paid for one? This was a breakthrough, when the numbers told the reality of my story.
I learned many lessons on my quest to reclaim my identity and break the glass ceiling during my professional years. I learned to adapt to change, listen to learn, establish boundaries, turn off my phone and laptop after 5pm, and most of all, take time for myself. Here are a few tips that helped me during my journey as a recovering workaholic.
- Take time to conduct your Tree of Life
- This exercise increased my self-awareness and self-esteem through visual imagery. It discovered my past, highlighted my present, and shaped my future.
- Instructions: You will be drawing your version of a tree. Leave space for branches and roots. DO NOT write words, letters, numbers, or symbols. Only draw pictures, squiggles, or shapes. Use color as desired.
- Roots nourish a tree. Draw 1 root for each biological parent, stepparent, grandparent, and caretaker in your life. The people you represent with roots are your support system while growing up. Choose the ones that are most important to you.
- Draw a branch for each family member. Make sure to include the most important people in your life.
- Think about each thing in your life that makes you feel good about yourself and draw a flower with a picture of that thing that makes you feel good inside of it.
- Reflect about each significant event in your life that has changed you or your life. Draw a leaf with a little picture inside of the important event.
- Think about each of your achievements in life- big or small. Draw a fruit for each achievement and include a little picture that represents that achievement.
- Take the time to understand your personality and behavioral style. Invest in yourself by taking assessments to better understand you. I recommend DiSC or MBTI.
- Take time to soul-search and reflect. Determine what your core values are, gain clarity about your life’s priorities, and accept your personal truth.
- Meditate five minutes daily. Studies have shown that the first ten minutes of the day will set the tone for rest of that day. So why not start your day relaxed and stress-free? I use breathing techniques to reduce stress, anxiety, and negative self-talk. This daily practice helps cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness.
- Travel. Immerse yourself in someplace new, explore the world, and expand your horizons. After exploring other countries, I returned with different set of lenses and gained a greater appreciation for life in the USA.
- Exercise. It increases your happiness and energy levels. Studies have shown that there are many benefits when exercising. A few examples include reduces your risk of heart disease, improves your sleep, helps to manage blood sugar and insulin levels, increases your chances living longer, and improves your mental health and mood.
- Analyze your self-talk and time while you work. What crosses your mind? What are your needs versus your wants? I recommend (1) keeping a log at work to track time, (2) setting daily timers for meals and break times, and (3) finding an accountability partner to help manage on/off times.
Working hard and long hours may make work-life balance more difficult, so remember to stay grounded, know your limitations, and prioritize your values in life. When that inner voice starts to convince you to keep working, remember to take care of yourself first so that you can enjoy life’s precious moments because work will always be there when you get back.
Cheers to your academic and career successes!
Rosemary Capuchino is a master student in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development