Work Hard, But Not TOO Hard!

You’d think it would be easy to tell when you’re working too hard as a business owner. Unfortunately, though, our bodies have this remarkable way of adjusting to the demands we place on them, and this can make it extremely hard to see the signs that we need to take it easy.

If you’re passionate about your business, you may have the attitude that there’s no such thing as working too hard. This is wrong! Here are a few signs that you need to start going easier on yourself.

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Source: Flickr

You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Socialized

This one can be a seriously rude awakening for a lot of new business owners. You turn down an invitation for a meal, a shopping trip, or just a quick drink, and the person who’s asking points out that you’ve spent the last four weekends at your computer rather than out living life.

Yes, most of your friends may not understand what it’s like to have uncertain profit margins to worry about, but that doesn’t mean that you should go on letting these opportunities to socialize pass you by! If you can’t get out and socialize once in a while because you’re too busy taking care of tasks at your business, then it may be time to hire an assistant, organize some office cleaning services, or make some kind of other large change. If you don’t unplug once in a while, you’re sure to end up hitting a burnout!

You’re Not the Lovely Boss You Once Were

As you pile more onto your workload and push your brain harder and harder, you may find that being nice to your employees, partners, and everyone else doesn’t come as naturally as it did at one point. We all have stressful days where something trivial about the way someone behaves serves as the last straw, and we snap at them in a way that really wasn’t called for. It’s only a problem when this becomes habit.

If you find yourself berating waiters or customer service agents, ordering your workers around without saying “please” and “thank you”, or getting angry at your kids much more often than you used to, then it’s certainly time to review your workload and take it easier.

Your Body’s Showing Worrying Changes

Here’s something that might surprise you: it’s not all that uncommon for workaholics to experience rapid, premature hair loss. What’s worse is that many people manage to ignore this, make excuses, and cause the issue to become worse and worse. Stress has serious repercussions on our bodies. Different people react in different ways, so don’t think you’re safe just because you have a full head of hair!

Insomnia, rapid weight loss or gain, headaches, stomach aches, and all kinds of other symptoms can come as a result of working yourself too hard. Yes, there are medicines and dietary changes that can make you feel better. However, those won’t change the fact that your body’s rejecting the amount of stress you’re putting it through! If you or anyone else notices abrupt changes in your body, make a point of chilling out.

What Affects Our Happiness At Work?

Having a career is a bit like being in a relationship. You go through good patches and bad patches. There can be times when you love what you are doing, and times when you are wracking your brain as to why you started out on this path in the first place.

There is a lot of information out there telling us how to find the perfect job, but is it really about that? Is work always going to be just work, or can we be truly happy in our career? Let’s take a look.

 

Field

Probably the number one aspect that we focus on when choosing a career is the field that we will be working in. Sometimes, this can have a lot to do with our skills and strength.

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For example, those with good emotional intelligence often choose caring fields like medicine. Or those with spatial intelligence may pick something where they work in 3-D, like architecture.  People who have an affinity for accuracy and figures often go into science roles or accountancy.

Of course, we all have a mix of different strengths, skills, and experience. It’s how they combine in each of us individually that makes certain careers appeal.

But what has this got to do with loving your work? Well, some folks believe that if you find the right field to work in, it will help you be happy in your job. There is certainly a ring of truth in this because many fields of work are seen as a vocation rather than just a job. People are motivated by helping individuals in need in that area or by working with particular skills. It does make sense that, if we get to use the skills that we are best at and enjoy, we will be a lot happier in our day-to-day role.

If you are not in a role in which you get to use for favorite skills, it might be time to move on and get retrained in an area that does float your boat.

Conditions

Another factor that can affect happiness at work is the conditions that we find ourselves in. For some of us, it’s not about what we are doing so much but the environment in which we are doing it. That is why some people can be happy in one role, and then unhappy in a similar one.

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If you find yourself in a situation like this, don’t settle. Reach out to your contacts in your field, and try an executive search to help you find another role, with conditions that suit you better.

 

Salary

 

While it can be frowned upon on to mention wages, the truth of the matter is that there are very few of us who work just for the sheer pleasure of it. Receiving a reasonable recompense for your time and effort in work is not unreasonable. In fact, most of us work to live, no matter how much pride or even identity we set by our job roles.

That means that getting a good salary and benefits package can be integral to happiness at work. You are bound to feel unhappy if you know others are earning more doing the same role as you, even if you do love what you’re doing. If you find yourself in a situation like this then ask for a pay rise or look for another role with better wages.

 

How To Stamp Out Bad Attitudes In Your Office

The last thing any business owner needs is bad attitudes from their team members. It’s vital that everyone works together if you want to succeed and make a killing. So, we’ve come up with some ideas you might like to think about this year. The process is not an exact science, and so sometimes you need to take an individual approach. However, the methods and techniques mentioned on this page have worked well for other companies in the past. That is why we think you should try them out before sourcing alternatives. At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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Hold regular team meetings

One of the best ways to stamp out bad attitudes involves engaging with your employees. Hold regular meetings where you can air your issues and discuss the matter openly. Let people know they can say whatever they like without repercussions. Hopefully, that will encourage them to give you their honest thoughts about the problems. You should consider any comments you receive and try to use the information to make improvements.

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Implement a warning system

All companies need a disciplinary procedure for employees who fail to make the grade. That could help to motivate your team and encourage them to do the right thing. Maybe someone argues whenever you ask them to perform a particular job? Perhaps you have a couple of people who never seem to find common ground? Design a process that enables you to deal with the situation. You should start with verbal warnings, then move to written complaints and dismissals. Just make sure all workers understand the steps you will take.

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Try cultural development training

It’s possible you have created a culture in your workplace that encourages bad attitudes. For that reason, it makes sense to think about cultural development training. Culturized and their competitors offer tailored sessions that could help you to turn things around. You just need to find a similar company that serves businesses in your location. Also, make sure you read reviews because some professionals get better results than others.

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Build better relationships with your employees

There are many ways you could build better relationships with your team members. You need to gain their respect if you want them to go the extra mile. An excellent way of achieving that goal involves taking an interest in their lives outside of your office. Learn about their families and any stresses they face at home. That should help you to develop rapport and understand why their bad attitudes might manifest during the working day. When you have an insight like that, it’s much easier to rectify the situation.

As we said only a moment ago, stamping out bad attitudes is not an exact science. However, those simple concepts should help you to make an improvement. Of course, sometimes you’re flogging a dead horse, and you need to take action. So, make sure you aren’t afraid of firing people who consistently cause problems. There is only so much you can handle as the boss of the company. If you try your best and fail, sometimes it’s best to remove the individual.

[Post contributed to tamarhela.com]

The Problem of being Good at “Everything”

In my last post, I stated that I had some exciting news. By that, I meant exciting and nerve-wracking.

I quit my day job.

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There. Now it’s out and not so bad. But honestly, I am a little anxious about the immediate future. Why?

I’ve decided to freelance and work for myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited to be working for myself. But those of you who share in my entrepreneurial spirit can empathize with just how challenging working for yourself can be. However, I will reiterate that I am thrilled and can’t wait for the next chapter of my life to unfold.

This was the first week that I had all to myself. It’s been a week in which I rested, took time to get lots of “busy work” done, crossed off several things on my to-do list, and began to draft what my life will now look like in this new structure. And, as always, there are so many things you learn about yourself whenever a big change occurs. For me, I’ve been learning about the importance of limiting my focus.

You see: I’m the classic overachiever. I am unsatisfied if the job done is less than 110% and have high expectations of myself and those with whom I work—i.e. if you’re on my team, you better be ready to kick some ass. There’s nothing wrong with having that kind of work ethic, but when your ego intermixes with achievement and grows en masse, the “intimidation monster” may rear its ugly head in the process. This is what I call “the problem of being good at everything.”

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In the past, several people have told me that I am intimidating. Those who know me very well wouldn’t describe me as such, but would agree that because I’m demanding of myself, it may come across as intimidating to others. When I was younger and just in the blossoming stages my career, I honestly had no idea why I was labeled in that way. In fact, being the sensitive flower that I am (ha!), I would actually become offended at said label. But now that I’ve finished a ten-year run in the education field, I can actually appreciate those perspectives because I understand where they were coming from.

When you’re a know-it-all and try to take on every task under the sun, you WILL come off as Hermione Granger—and not in a good way. One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself while growing in my career is that my number one strength is strategy. (According to Clifton Strengths Finder.) That means that I can see solutions where many people see puzzles. I can mentally rearrange the “pieces” of a problem and see the whole picture. It’s nothing over which I have control—I was made this way. I am not responsible for this gift. It’s how my brain works. Though it sounds like an amazing skill to possess, it also has its curse. The curse of: the temptation to rescue everyone and solve the problem before they can even attempt to work out a solution for themselves. This is what Liz Wiseman would call an “accidental diminisher.”

People only want to be rescued if they’re drowning. And guess what? Many people in the workforce aren’t drowning; they’re simply looking at different ways to solve problems and may not come to an answer as fast as a strategist. But those of us who rush in too quickly diminish the genius of others. Particularly those of us who have four page résumés. *Guiltily raising my hand.*

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I began to realize this especially when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia last year. When I became physically limited, my eagerness to jump in and do everything and save the day was limited as well. Though Fibro is very painful and not something I would wish upon anyone, it has been a good thing. It taught me that I simply cannot do everything for everyone—I am NOT superwoman and that’s okay!

While I learned this lesson, old habits still crept in. I am nowhere near perfect, after all. Taking too much on my “job plate” was a problem and I’d become so overwhelmed that the huge progress I had made in lessening Fibro symptoms would be interrupted by a painful flare up. It sucked.

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Finally, I started focusing on myself more—specifically during this year. I was tired of feeling pain, tired of being overwhelmed, and tired of appearing intimidating. I just wanted to be me, enjoy my life, and pursue my passions. This caused me to initiate a mental dialogue with myself that eventually became external dialogues with some of my mentors. One mentor, in particular, said something so simple yet so riveting that it solidified my decision to change my life: “Tamar, you can either spend the rest of your life being good at everything…OR, you can spend the rest of your life being great at that one thing you’re passionate about.” Wow. Talk about conviction!

That conversation sparked events that eventually led to this blog post. Today, my office is a coffee shop and I’ll get to work out with all the retirees at the gym later—before most everyone is out of school and work. And if I want, I can squeeze in a nap, just because I can. But those are not the reasons why I’ve abandoned the intimidating overachiever. It’s much bigger than those perks.

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 I’m finally pursuing my passion. The one thing at which I’m going to be great: writing.

Funny thing is, I liked writing when I was younger, hated it while in high school and college, and sort of rediscovered it as a means of mental freedom while penning my first novel, Feast Island, about five years ago. I had such a narrow perspective on writing until it became my liberator from the busyness of life. When it was the thing on which I spent all of my free time. When it evolved into more than just a portion of my job—it developed into my passion.

Now, the plan is to be a freelancer, specializing in copywriting, copyediting, content creation, and other writing services. Hopefully I will be able to have more time to focus on my fiction writing while not engaged in non-fiction writing. (Fiction doesn’t pay the bills quite yet, but here’s hoping!) I’m just about done with my NEW brand and website: helawrite.com. I will loudly announce when it’s ready for reveal, meaning I’ll be available for hire! 🙂 This is scary, new, exciting…all emotions mixed into one ball of anxiety-stricken and joy-filled energy. I’m optimistic about the future and expect failures, successes, and everything in between.

I don’t feel like I’m “finally on the right path”; rather, I feel like I’m on the right path for right now.

All that I experienced in my prior career shaped me to become the ME I am today. It helped me to learn very valuable lessons that I’ve since applied to my life to become better. I’m learning how to let go of things I can’t control. I’m perfectly happy being imperfect.  Every day, I come closer to truly understanding that this life isn’t about me, but rather about how I can be used to change the world through my vocation.

To the overachievers and those who “need” to control: guess what? You cannot control everything in life; the more you try to control, the more battles you will fight and lose. LET GO. It’s not about you. Become GREAT by relinquishing control, sharing the spotlight, and being a “multiplier” of talents around you.

To the underachievers: GRAB ON. Find your passion and begin to focus your energies on becoming better and better at that one thing. Become GREAT by being passionate, focused, and intentional. Bring others along side you for the journey.

I’ll leave you with the challenge to “dare greatly” as Brené Brown would say, and go forth in faith to do what you were meant to do. As the great Theodore Roosevelt said in the Citizen in a Republic speech,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

Have a great weekend!