Working Hours – When Is Enough, Enough?
Every month, many people come to my practice saying they feel exhausted and stressed and can I offer them solutions to cope with the demands of their lives. As they share their stories, it becomes apparent that they are playing onerous demands on themselves which they have come to think are normal. When they share the details of their lives, it is not uncommon to hear people saying that they are often working 12 – 14 hours a day, take work home and are trying to increase their options for promotion by doing part-time study. If they are single, this is becoming more common and if they have a family, then it is causing enormous conflict at home.
When is enough is enough?
I encourage my clients to take back responsibility for their lives. This might seem obvious but it isn’t. Even people in senior positions with seeming choice over their lives, often fail to see that they are ultimately responsible for their lives and can’t blame others, the market, economic demands or the reality of corporate life for their choices. Obviously, there are pressures but ultimately, each person has to choose. Why it is so difficult to accept that how you set your life up is a choice?
My experience of seeing managers and executive from all industries, is that identity is increasingly linked to what we do, earn, own and where we live. Again a choice. Whilst rewarding to have some external markers of success, each person has to decide the cost of attaining what they want – and whether it truly makes them happy to apportion their time as they do. I see many executives who at the end of their careers, cry ‘I learnt to make a living but I never learnt how to live!’. The pain of regret is powerful – so take care now to reflect on how you spend this limited currency called your life. Often the greatest demands on ourselves are those we place ourselves – even if it looks as if we are blaming others for them.