I recently met someone who told me that he was a ‘workaholic’ and he was proud of it. He loved his job, he had a lot of responsibility at work and the only way for him to have some fun was to schedule it into his planner two nights a week; this was his work-life balance. To me this description sounds like the life of someone who’s maybe in their 40s and is working towards a promotion or salary bump. Yet this man was only 23.
This to me is very concerning. On the one hand yes, he is hardworking, motivated and dedicated to his job, qualities that any successful young person would want in to exude. But when does this line become blurred and hardworking turns into overworking? Our western culture is founded on independence and success, and Gen-Ys have gotten sucked into this way of living and way of thinking.
It wasn’t until recently, when my anxiety and stress was too much to handle, that I realized that we’re doing it all wrong. There are a lot of things that we can aspire to in life, and personal success and accomplishment can easily dominate all the other options. I used to be the kind of person that would always say ‘yes’. Yes to helping my organisation plan that big event, yes to that few extra hours researching info for all the students in my program, yes to just one more volunteer position that won’t take up that much time. Every time I said ‘yes’ it was because I thought I was doing it all for my future career and adding to my resume. I was so caught up in doing everything possible not to miss an opportunity that would benefit my career that I ended up doing nothing that I love. I got to the point where I didn’t even know what my interests and hobbies were. I didn’t know what I was passionate about other than my career.
It was time for a change. I never quit any of the positions that I held, but once they came to an end I didn’t take on anything new. I was starting to understand the importance of a work-life balance and the impact that it has on my well-being and happiness. I’m the type of person that needs to be constantly busy and working towards a goal. For me it is important to maintain this, so I refocused my goals on personal interests that would make me happy. The big step for me was taking up running. Running is something that I’ve always wanted to try and train to a point where I could run long-distance races and finally decided that it was time to jump in. Since I started running less than two years ago, I've completed a variety of races including a half-marathon; my next one is coming up in a few weeks!
Being motivated by your work is a great way to experience success in life but remember, work to live, don’t live to work.