Have you ever noticed how there’s a subtle yet unspoken sense of importance we place on being busy? It’s glamorized, favored and revered.
When someone launches into a long diatribe about their crazy schedule, mile long to do list and exhaustive lifestyle, we sometimes assume they must be incredibly important and live a much more fabulous existence than we could ever dream of.
Within our professions, regardless of industry, those among us willing to do “the hard work” earn the title of “top performer”, receive larger raises and are the first to be promoted. I’m a huge proponent of working hard. However, I’m less inclined to support the idea of working ourselves to death.
While it may seem like putting in a zillion hours and selling your soul is the fastest way to the top, if the “top” is your goal, I’d argue that you’re wrong. Possibly dead wrong. Meaning – you’re more likely to die of stress related illnesses than you are to actually see “the top”.
Stress can momentarily make us more productive, but prolonging that stress to the point that it becomes chronic just means we’re dumping stress hormones into our bodies constantly. This leads to burning out everything from our adrenal glands to our mental health.
If it seems unnatural that American’s are working more hours than any other developed nation in the entire world (check out this article for more data http://ampr.gs/1xN7CHS), it’s because it IS.
Let’s take a cue from nature.
Some animals go into hibernation – they go into a deep sleep for months while their bodies regenerate, restore, heal. We have a sweet little pet turtle who lives in a large tank in our house. Every winter he spends most of his time sleeping, eats almost nothing, and sheds pieces of his shell while he grows new ones (I have yet to see him come out of hibernation in the spring freaking out because of lost productivity).
Our planet gives itself respite all year long. During the course of one calendar year, the Earth is constantly putting some part of itself through the winter season. During that quiet, frozen time, tree roots strengthen, soil absorbs nutrients, the growing cycle prepares itself to begin again.
I’ve noticed a shift in the younger generation, those still in their twenties, wherein they seem to have set the expectation that they won’t put themselves through the same lifestyle their parents live. They appear to be more focused on working smart, but working a healthy number of hours per week, having meaningful relationships (don’t buy everything you’re hearing about social media ruining them – except for maybe their spelling and grammar), flexible working environments and enjoying what really matters in life, perhaps including the choice to earn less money if that’s what it takes.
Is it time for all of us to start prying the mask off of the over-inflated sense of importance that comes with working too many hours, rushing everywhere we go and constantly checking the time?
Perhaps this January is a good time to evaluate the why behind your crazy life. Give yourself permission to rest and restore this winter. I’m not suggesting plopping down on your couch until the tulips bloom. But I am suggesting giving some consideration to how you can be more intentional, to make plans of your choosing and not just your boss’, and absolutely, be less stressed.
Let me know what you think. If any of these ideas resonated with you, please tell me. If you have scathing rebuttal, I’d like to hear that as well.