Many of us are guilty of doing working and pushing ourselves so hard that we make ourselves sick. I know I have.
Life and work come a calling, and it seems impossible to say no, and the next thing you know, you’re working in bed sick with your laptop. That’s a flashback from a time I worked to the point of sickness.
Once when I was younger in my career and trying to get promoted, I was fortunate enough to be a key player on a team to deliver a big, important project for my company. The stakes were high and the pressure too. I worked all day, went home and worked some more. The laptop and I were in an intimate relationship, and I was struggling to stay balanced. I failed miserably and learned a big lesson in the process.
In addition to overworking myself and being a bit of a grouch, I let go of taking care of my health and nutrition. Sleeping was out of the question as I continued to work in my sleep, often waking up in the middle of the night with potential solutions to our project.
So a week or two away from approaching a big deliverable date, I flat out got sick. My body rejected my chosen lifestyle adjustment and told me who was boss. I was miserable because all I wanted to do was work on our project. I was terrified of letting the team down and disappointing my manager. So despite my best effort to fake it, I had to call in sick, but made myself available for questions. So there I was, with fever and sweats, laying in my PJ’s in bed, curled up with my laptop configuring software and writing emails. I only turned over every few minutes for a little nap, enough to keep me going for another round of emails.
My managers knew I was working sick, and by the end of that weekend, I was recovered and ready to go. It was hard, but I should have made a few different choices along the way. There was definitely room for self-improvement. I should have neglected some of my social life. I could have asked for help with some of the workload. Looking back at the whole thing now, it’s somewhat easier to be more self-aware.
One of the most common topics I talk to Rhonda Shasteen, my mentor, about is work/life balance. Being the amazing sounding board she is, Rhonda always stresses the importance of work/life balance and supports me through her encouraging words. One way to look at it when deciding to over do it or not is to prioritize things like Mary Kay Ash did. Her philosophy was “God First. Family Second. Career Third.” That seems to make good sense. Take care of your spiritual life, whatever that means to you. Be with your family and be there for your family, and finally worry about the career. Hopefully you can be in a company that respects your need to prioritize, and if you are that fortunate, don’t let it all go by choosing a work, then family, then God.
Keeping things in the right perspective is the best first step. Slowing down enough to know the decisions you’re making and why you’re making them is second. If you do make yourself sick from over working, please listen to your body and do a check on your priorities because you can!