Work is addictive. As an employee, I was a workaholic until the point where I couldn’t take it anymore and quit my job. I then started my own business with a brand new mindset only to find that I’d gone from category 1 to category 4. Many people end up burning the candle from both ends before burning out. In my books, they usually fall into one of the following categories based on their work ethic
Category 1: Carrot
If I do this, I’ll get a promotion or a bonus
Category 2: Stick
If I don’t do it, I’ll get fired or worse, my boss will bitch me out
Category 3: I’m better / luckier than everyone else
I get paid more than my peers or more than I deserve to be paid so let’s rake in the moolah while the sun shines
Category 4: Life is shitty but it will be amazing soon
My growth is exponential and so if I can sustain this rate for another 3-4 years I’ll be in a comfortable place for the rest of my life.
Category 5: I don’t read books
I don’t give a shit about my work and take mini-naps under my desk when no one’s watching. I also hate my customers and piss on the toilet seat whenever I can
Category Jedi Knight
I know exactly what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how to do it
Ignoring the McDonalds crew, it eventually gets to a point where saying no to your work is as difficult as saying no to another pint of beer on a Friday night. Money is the currency of effort and if society needs what you offer, your effort will be rewarded. More money, more recognition, more responsibility, more impact but what it all effectively means is that you’ll be doing a lot more work.
You can make a few calls on the train, slip in a few hours of computer work after dinner, send emails while walking to lunch, etc. Rationalizing your workaholic behavior is getting increasingly common as technology advances and allows you to work 24/7 from anywhere. Including while you’re in Thailand on your honeymoon.
As an entrepreneur, it’s even easier to get sucked into this work trap and forget why you became an entrepreneur in the first place – to become the master of your own destiny. I justified my crazy work habits by telling myself that it was necessary to succeed and that it would only last for the first few months while the hostel stabilized. We now have 4 stable hostels and it’s been 3 years.
“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” – James Patterson
Whether you agree with categorizing life so bluntly or not, the point is your life is going to be a train wreck if you neglect everything else for work.
Some lucky people say – I love my job and work all the time because I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. The first step towards lifestyle design isn’t “what do you want to DO with your life?” It probably is “what do you want to GET out of your life?” Based on what you want to GET, you can DO accordingly. And if you want to get a few things out of life, odds are you’ll have to do more than just your job.
Setting goals is the #1 priority. Lifestyle goals, family goals, work goals and whatever-else-that-is-important-to-you goals. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you’ve got a wider scope to decide what you need to do to achieve those goals.
And so I’ve come to realize that my goal in life isn’t to only be a business owner (independence, value creation, money, etc.). I’ve decided to take my future into my own hands and set some new goals. More running, more reading, more blogging, more healthy food, more travel, more quality time with the people I love and more effective work. Which sometimes means shutting down the laptop, switching off the phone and walking out the door…