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Stuck in the Corporate "Habit" of Working Long Hours?

Updated: May 26

I spent a good amount of my life striving to grow my business, working long hours, defending my obsessive business time to the ones I loved… not realizing what I was missing.

When I lost a brother to suicide, it made me stop and question what I want out of life, and what I was wasting time on.

I don’t believe in regrets — what we experience in life is our learning path, shaping us into who we are today. Instead of regrets, I choose to be grateful for the awareness and the freedom of choice. The freedom to live the life I want to live. Sometimes that can seem out of our own control though, depending on how far we’ve gotten ourselves “in.”

But I truly believe any of us can make choices to live a happy and regret-free life.

Take for example the corporate “habit” of working long hours. It’s actually been glorified to “move up the ladder,” “work so hard,” or to be “always traveling.” On their own, none of these activities is a negative thing. It’s our lack of balancing it all that can create the issues!

There’s so much talk today of life balance — and for many business owners and executives, there’s quite a negative connotation around it, because it’s either perceived, or for some a reality, that they’re not working hard enough.

Maybe life balance isn’t the right term for it, but knowing yourself and aligning yourself to your own priorities makes perfect sense to me. And this should align to the job choices you make as well. (In fact, that’s what GRIT is all about in my book Leading With GRIT.)

If you find yourself in the ‘workaholic’ mode, there is a way out! Instead of complaining about the job, or looking for pity from your friends and family, get clear on why you are there, if you want to stay there (emotionally as well as physically), and then what to do next.

Use GRIT — generosity, respect, integrity and truth — to help you align to what’s important and live the life you choose.

Here are some tips:

  1. Be clear on what your job entails. Know your high value activities (HVAs), and stay focused on those. Then you can measure your accomplishments and productivity, and focus on results, not just busy work and face time.

  2. Take full ownership for your role. Deliver on your promises, and if you can’t, let people know as soon as you know.

  3. Set boundaries for yourself. Learn to say no (diplomatically of course). But stand up for yourself. As Don Miguel Ruiz says, “we allow others to abuse us only as much as we abuse ourselves.”

  4. Be courageous enough to make a change in careers or companies if you cannot live and work the way you desire. Respect that this could take time, and you may need coaching or guidance.

When you know yourself — your strengths, passions, limitations, vulnerabilities —and you know what you want, you have clarity of purpose; you respect yourself and others by aligning your actions appropriately.

You will feel generous in a healthy way, rather than being stressed, burned out or even ill. In fact, in my own personal experience, as well as from many I’ve worked with, life rewards you when you align yourself — through more money, more time, more passion, and/or feeling happier and more connected.

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