It’s understandable to be passionate about something that you love doing, and it’s great to be driven by excellence even if you’d rather be doing something else. However, investing too much of yourself in your job can also be counter-productive; you get stressed more often and you end up thinking about work even if you’re already out of the office.
We live in a society that’s unhealthily fixated with work. “I speak daily with individuals from Silicon Valley to Scandinavia about their obsessions with work—obsessions that, by their own accounts, are making them miserable,” writes practical philosopher Andrew Taggart on the World Economic Forum. “Nevertheless, they assume that work is worth caring a lot about because of the fulfillments and rewards it supplies, so much so that it should be the center of life.”
The key to happiness is to stop making everything revolve around your 9-to-5. You have to practice just the right amount of “wa pakels” for you to balance your life:
Detach yourself from a single idea of success.
If success for you means getting to the top of the corporate ladder by hook or by crook, then you’ll probably end up scampering your way up, stepping on other people, and being perpetually on your toes for the off-chance of skipping a few rungs. Just imagine Miranda Priestly from Devil Wears Prada. She notes that “Everybody wants to be us.” Pause for the moment and realize what that entails: a trail of broken marriages and a generally unhappy personal life.
You don't need to let go of ambition. You only need to understand that internal happiness and corporate success are two different things, and that one can be achieved without the other. You don’t need to be the boss to be happy, and really, you’ll only be an effective leader if you’re not grasping desperately on to power. Once you cut yourself some slack and realize this, you’ll find that there are more important things in life than what’s on your resume.
Do things without thought of how they will benefit you.
Take a chill pill—not everything you need to do should be about how to get that next promotion. Even when you’re at work, allow yourself to deviate from your tight schedule. Take a walk, escape for a quick massage, have drinks with folks from another department, or even volunteer as a performer for your company anniversary program.
The point is, you’re not a robot. You need space to breathe (and basically, have a life) even within office walls. Find relaxing moments that don’t require you to have a solid goal and simply enjoy them. “By these means, we can plunge into life, engaging our senses while suspending our buzzing, noisy workday concerns,” says Andrew.
Reflect on who you are.
Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it does make sense to ask “Is this really who I am” during times when you’re too focused on thoughts of success that other life priorities seem to fade in the background. Girl, you’re not your job title. When you die, they won’t put ‘Senior Vice President’ on your tombstone. While ambition is great, temper it with heart. You’ll be happier once you remember to consider that there’s more to life than your career.
H/T: World Economic Forum