But it seems like everyone thinks that these days.
My boss got fired a couple months ago. Walked out on a rainy Wednesday in the middle of July without so much as a chance at goodbye. And since then, my life at work has gotten exponentially busier. The workload seems to compound by the hour. I consider myself someone with a very high sense of urgency. It’s one of my best qualities. But even I can’t seem to stay on top of things anymore. There are days I feel like a zombie, and I absolutely hate that. I can’t stand not being active and present in the moment. That’s what makes me good at my job, and lately I feel like I’ve been chipped away, little by little. Because there is simply not enough of me or my energy to go around. Yes, I could be at the office for 10-12 hours a day. Yes, I could not take my usual 4 PM workout break because I don’t eat lunch. Yes, I could work from dawn till dusk and I’m sure my co-workers would applaud me.
But where would my sanity be? How effective would my judgment be and my ability to perform quality work?
Easy answer. It would be trashed. Being a workaholic is not a badge of honor. It’s actually the opposite. It creates burned out, over stressed and unhealthy people. It’s a counter productive way to success and obstructs the very thing that makes people good at their jobs…balance. Good quality of life equals good quality of work. And while there is never a perfect formula for it, you can get pretty darn close.
There can be exceptions to this, of course. The recent rise of entrepreneurial lifestyles have made round the clock work, workable. Those individuals, while they may not be bound by a time clock or physical location, work crazy hours too. The perception that they work when they feel like and still experience financial freedom and success just isn’t true. A certain level of effort is required no matter what business you’re attached to, be it your own or someone else’s. The factor that separates the entrepreneur from the rest of the working class is that 9 times out of 10, they’re doing it from a position of passion. They are 100% enthused about their work because they have a personal and fiery connection to it. And as a result, it often doesn’t FEEL like work to them. But it still is.
My first real job was with a boss who was an incredible mentor and friend. And aside from her business savvy and ability to work through many different kinds of problems, the outstanding quality I will remember is her emphasis on efficiency. She always told me that as long as the work is getting done, she didn’t care how long I was there. She said there’s no point trying to work a certain number of hours just because that’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what our parents and grandparents did. Times change. The landscape of work changes. The tools we work with change. Why don’t we change the mentality along with it?
I, like many millennials, long for that type of work. And I, like my compatriots, are trying to figure out how to make it happen. I went the traditional route. College, internship, degree, job. Yet 5 years or more later, I find myself struggling for meaning in it. And in a social media driven society, it is easier now more than ever to dump the 8-5 grind and venture onto something new. Every week I get hit up by fellow Gen Y friends asking to join their teams. Be an advocate. Brand ambassador. Self- made, self-taught, self-directed. And I have more than once been tempted to follow through on those invitations. They always says, go after what you want! So what if you fail, you’ll never know until you try.
Yes. Yes, I know. As I roll my eyes inside. But is it wrong to want to avoid failure? To not want to experience the train wreck feeling that may inevitably follow after?
But there’s no denying it. There is truth in not knowing until you try. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll swallow a boatload of courage and find out.