I spent 25 years climbing the corporate ladder only to find out it was leaning against the wrong building. I worked 60-80 hours a week, traveled 50% of the time and spent more time with my co-workers than my family. I was on a career hamster wheel and I wanted off but did not know how.
I dreamed of having a LIFE outside of work. I pretended it existed but the reality was that work was my life and my identity. I could see that ‘I’ was the missing piece in my LIFE. I had the wonderful husband and amazing son, but I was not there. I was at work. Even when I was at home my mind was still at work. When there is no ‘I’ in your life you are left with LFE and that means Life Feels Empty. That was exactly how I felt even though there was much around me to be grateful for.
When I had the opportunity to be laid off, my life and identity went away instantly. I no longer had a purpose and I did not know who I was without the corporate career. I would wake up in the morning and wonder what I was supposed to do? I did not know what I liked to do outside of work because I had never really experienced that. I had no friends because I was always traveling and working. I felt like a stranger looking at my life from the outside. I was not really a participant and I did not know how to put myself back in my life.
As I looked at my years of service to the corporations I worked for, I realized that I had made work more important than anything else in my life. More important than myself, my husband and my son. I was waiting until retirement to go on dream vacations and spend time with my family. What a lonely reality I was living.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you feel like you are waiting until retirement to live your life?
3 Ways to Put YOU Back in Your Life
Work Less – Play More!
There are a multitude of studies that show the impact of all work and no play. It is well known that the overworked employee over time becomes less productive, produces less quality work and often starts banking more sick days. You also pay a huge price usually in your health and/or marriage. Incorporate Play into your daily life. Go out to the park at lunch and swing on the swings. Leave work early and go for a walk in nature. Do something just for you that will recharge you and make you feel alive!
Overworked employees tend to become too serious. Their life is work, work, work. I once attended a laughter therapy workshop. Each person laid on the ground with their head on someone’s stomach and then we all laughed. It was so much fun and one of the funniest things I have ever done. I still laugh when I think about this exercise of laughter. Does your commute have you down? Play a comedy station or CD in your car to and from work. Find ways to laugh more throughout your day!
I stopped taking breaks and going to lunch in an effort to get more work completed. I was eating lunch at my desk and coffee breaks were not for people interested in climbing the corporate ladder. All this did was make me tired, frustrated and worn out. My creativity dried up and I was producing less quality work than when I did take regular and frequent breaks. Start simple: every 1 to 2 hours take 1 to 2 minutes, close your eyes and breathe deeply clearing your mind of stress or go for a walk outside or around the office.
If you are feeling like work is your life and your identity, I encourage you to take steps to change that before it is too late. No one ever sits on their death bed and says, “I wish I spent more time at work.” Look at your life/work balance and determine what you would say on your death bed. If it is not what you want to say, send me an email and let’s chat about ways to put yourself back in your life! When I sit on my death bed I want to say, “Wow, now that was a fun ride!”