Work – Don’t OVER Work

As most of you know, I lecture at The Oaks at Ojai once or twice a week on some aspect of health, along the lines of these Fit Notes. My topic this week was “Healthier People are Happier People.” It wasn’t meant to be trite- I really believe this, that the healthier we become on every level and layer of life, we WILL have a greater overall sense of wellbeing…we’ll be happier with ourselves and with our lives. So one of my many “healthy is happy” aspects was this- “People who have HEALTHY Work Boundaries are HAPPIER people.” It resonated with the group in such a way that I decided it was going to be “the topic” for this edition of my Fit Notes.

I’m all for work. I love working and can’t imagine not working! I want to be excellent at what I do, I want to have favor with my employers and co workers, I want to enjoy my days here and give it 100%, but I don’t just want to be a worker bee! I want to be a healthy, well rounded person on every level.

How about you? How’s it going for you at work? Let’s assess with some questions. Do you feel like you’ve allowed your job to swallow you whole? Are you interested/ready to reclaim control of your work life? Do you believe it to be true that overworking always leads to MORE overworking, and it will be what’s expected of you as long as you overwork? If you are overworking, (more than 40 hours a week), would you agree that a lack of balance here has lead to soaring stress, fatigue, lost time with family, friends, hobbies, exercise, and recreation?

Do you believe that over work does not mean better work/worker?

I’d like to share a note from a guest who recently did a private session with me:

“Today I had a “Personal Fitness Consultation” with Nancy, the Fitness Director.  She specializes in “Here to Home” sessions, helping folks transfer the fitness and nutrition habits of spa life to every day life. I expected that Nancy would share handy tips on exercise and nutrition which she did.  However, she did not start our consultation with dietary recommendation, nor did she begin with activity recommendations. She started with stress management. She said, “A 40-hour work week is a lot.  A 60-hour work week is absurd and a 70-hour work week is lethal.”

And with that word, lethal, she had my full attention.

She recommended that I “reset” my boundaries around work, establishing an end-time for work each day.  She also recommended that I honor the “Sabbath”–set aside one day a week where I do not work and see that day as a loving gesture.

As some of you might imagine, I am reeling. Nancy, noticing my disorientation, suggested that I journal about my average work week then ask these questions: is it acceptable? Is it healthy? Is it sustainable? (I am pretty sure I don’t need a journal to figure out the answers!  Still, I will do my homework.)

I am left wondering what exactly I am avoiding (or hiding from) by working so much…  (Now that’s a journal topic!) Yes, I will share her fitness tips and her food tips, but this is the wisdom for today, and hopefully, every day.”

Well said, Shana! So, here’s what I recommend to those who might be ready to make a courageous change. First, re-set your schedule to a 40 hour work week. Take your breaks, leave at lunch, and use your flex days, sick days, and vacation time. Delegate what you can, and prioritize daily what MUST be done vs. what CAN wait. Learn to say, “NO”! Leave work AT work.

It can be done, but it’s your choice. Here’s a question. If you keel over tomorrow because you’re so stressed out and exhausted over your job, will their world stop? Yours will! Chances are, they will be sorry, and miss you, but they will move on without you. Is it really worth killing yourself over work? All change is scary, and the ultimate outcome of making a change is unknown, (you can’t predict or control the responses of others,) but it’s worth considering change for your own sanity, health, happiness and for all the other people in your life!

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