The other day I tweeted…
If I could change one thing about my job, it would be the guilt. The guilt of never being “finished” & working too little or too much.
It generated some conversation so I want to expand on that thought.
My list of ideas, tasks, and emails is never finished. Not even close. For LessAccounting alone, I have 200+ ideas written down. I’ll never get to the vast majority of them. I’ll never be “finished.”
Time is not an infinite well. If you work more, you must steal that time from something else. Working more hours means stealing time from sleep, socializing, parenting, exercise, reducing routine maintenance of the house/yard, and cutting time for hobbies.
I strive for “work/life balance,” but there is no balance. Balance implies perfect harmony but that’s never the case.
I either feel I’m working too much, or not enough. I know this isn’t the reality but the fear/guilt slips into my mind. Sometimes I feel like I’m letting Steve down, or I’m not doing enough to help our customers by improving our product.
The flip side of that self-induced guilt is the feeling of working too much so my family doesn’t get enough time, or my friends don’t get time, or I stop exercising.
Dan Mall recently said he looks for signs he’s working too much, and one sign is seeing his yard’s grass getting too high because he hasn’t cut it in a while.
I know I’m working too much when I can’t concentrate on my family during off-work hours.
I like my job, I like thinking about problems and working through possible solutions in my brain. But what happens when I start working too much is my brain won’t turn work thoughts off. Mentally, I can’t stop working, and it takes away energy to talk to my wife and interact with my kids. At that point, I back off from work, and take a few afternoons off. My brain puts work in check.
I know it’s in my head but there’s no getting over it. There are times I can keep my guilt in check. I can maintain balance for a while, but it slowly starts tilting off center.
Perhaps the day you stop worrying is the day you stop caring about your job, or worse, the day you stop caring about your family. Fear and guilt show concern. They mean you care, and that you’re constantly doing your best to be there for your family, while also finding fulfillment in your work. Maybe fear and guilt aren’t always bad as long as they don’t paralyze you.
If you wanted it to build a product you’d find a way to get time to work on it. If you really wanted to start that new hobby you’d sacrifice something to find the time and money to do it.
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