Alright, so it’s late on my end and I just cannot seem to fall asleep. No biggie, only have to wake up at 6am to walk the dog, get the kids ready for school and drop em off. Yeah easy stuff 😅
Anyhow, been thinking a lot about my career the past few days, as usual working over 60 hours every week, not being able to let go of slack on my phone. Responding to emails as soon as they come in, basically not being able to survive without looking at the notifications on my phone every 60 secs.
It does not help me the fact that I now have an Apple Watch so that exacerbates the problem because now I not only get notifications on my watch but that means that I also get to see them as soon as they come in.
Fun fact: Slack is the most used app on my phone. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry
I’m not trying to open up with a pity party here. All this was and is, a conscious decision that I made a long time ago when I started working and that was to make sure that i’m on top of everything. That my boss knows that i’m the hardest working person in the room, that I can prove to myself that I deserve the job that I have and this innate desire to be successful is satisfied.
You know it’s funny while writing this post I recall something that happened over 8-9 years ago. Me and my girlfriend at that time (now wife) bought our first ever car and we were driving to dinner, I think it was around 7 or 8pm, and lo and behold I get an email from one of the prospects that I was chasing that they can do a demo in the next 15 mins…
Yup you guessed, I turned right around and went straight to my dorm room and did that demo. Yes, I did end up closing that deal but somehow what I did that day, that memory is something I just cannot forget. It was because it was not right, what I did.
I see patterns now, back then I didn’t. Can’t pick up the kids from school, my wife can (she is my rock, she does most of the heavy lifting), can’t take my son to football practice, can’t make it to parent teacher meetings, can’t pick up my daughter from dance classes because i’m in meetings. Meetings all day long and no time to carve out for people that depend on me.
Ok, by now i’m marking myself as a shit and an absentee father. You know honestly sometimes I do feel that way, because in my pursuit to get a nicer house, better car, to give my kids a good education, I kind of disconnected from what mattered the most, my family. No amount of money can ever take their place. But I guess in this pursuit of constantly hustling I lost track of that.
The memories made with them are some of the most cherished memories that I have. The time I spend with them, the talks we have, movies we watch, games we play, it trumps any darn demo I would do, prospect I would close or a job that I would work.
Rightfully so, as it should. So why am I writing all this? Well, because it took me way too long to learn that and find out that there needs to be a balance in life. If you’re married to your work and all you can do is think about work all the time (just like me), then buddy I got some news for you, and that’s, you need to realign your goals and focus on things and people that actually matter in life.
That does not mean, you should quit your job tomorrow, get a van and starting traveling the globe with your kids. Well, actually if you want to and have the resources to do so, you absolutely should.
What I do want everyone to take away from my blabbering is that work will always be there, there will always be a crisis that would need solving. No amount of hours logged at work will ever be good enough. Especially, months where you are trailing behind on your targets. I really truly feel the anxiety that kicks in when that happens.
You know I give my everything to the companies I work for. Like my wife says, i’m the best employee any company can have, because I don’t complain, I bust my butt off day and night to make sure that the company is successful and i’m low maintenance (it took me a while to figure that one out). I guess it’s my mentality of paying back to the people who gave me a shot or just wanting to be successful because I don’t want to go back to the days when I was just slumming it. The whiskey sours, the BMW and a nice house, kids, well more responsibilities means the greater the fear that this all could come to an end at any moment.
So you continue to work and keep that front and center of your life and the only people you are doing all this for well you end up not giving them what matters the most. Your time and attention.
So is it worth this much pressure and sacrificing your life for a job?
Well, I guess the answer really depends on you. What your goals are in life and what you’re looking to achieve?
If you ask me, no. No job or hustle was worth or is worth me not spending enough time with my kids or being constipated with stress. Because believe it or not, the stress falls out to the people closest to you and it does have a negative affect on them.
So the whole point of me writing this at 1am (yeah this is my jerry mcguire moment) is to help you realize, if you haven’t already that the hustle culture is just not sustainable. Undying loyalty to the companies you work for (who can and will replace you at the drop of a hat), not knowing where the boundaries are with your day job, these are all disasters in the making. Trust me, it took me over a decade to realize and ask anyone I worked with and they will tell you consistently that I worked my butt off.
And for what?
A thank you or a LinkedIn recommendation? Naah, you got to look at this from a macro perspective and see what you are missing out on. Reminds me of a study that was conducted with a group of seniors in a retirement home and they were all asked the same question.
What do they regret the most in their lives?
Not one, not a single person said or hinted at the fact that they wish they could’ve spent more time at work. None of them.
Because work should always be a means to an end. And if your work gives you joy and you really truly enjoy working most of your work day, you do you. This advice is not for you.
If that is what you want to do and you are happy. Do more of it, don’t let anyone tell you any different. But if you really truly have that “feeling” in the back of your head at times that you are just working yourself to an early grave and life is passing you by, well sit down, carve out some time in your schedule, assess your life and take action.
Because we will all earn money in our lives, some more than others. But time is something we will never get back, so spending what precious time we have on just working and not enjoying other aspects of life is just not worth it. Don’t want to sound like a cynic but at the end of the day, if you stop performing, the company that you work for will not hesitate twice to let you go. This is true for salespeople more so than any other role since it’s mostly driven by targets. Family however, well they are with you and will be through thick and thin.
So Syed should I quit my job and give my kids a hug?
Ha, no. Just don’t be a fool like me and think that you need to work 12-14 hours a day to be successful. No you don’t need to, sure there are crunch days where you need to log extra hours and that’s fine but for the most part, 8 hours should be plenty for you to achieve the goals that you have set out for yourself at work.
Lay off of the hustle mentality candy and if you buy a new car and are taking your wife out on a date to celebrate, don’t turn around to give that demo to a prospect. Turn off the notifications and enjoy your evening, because you deserve it, and your family does too.
Dysfunctional relationship with work is the one of the leading causes of contempt to have for your employer and unhappiness in your professional life. Don’t do that to yourself, instead setup boundaries that you adhere to, because if you don’t do that soon, things I promise will only get worse from there.
Life is short and precious, enjoy it while it lasts and make memories outside of your work.
And delete slack or an IM app that you use at work from your phone. You’ll thank me. I personally am not there yet 😅 my anxiety will cause a heart attack, but I will keep reading my own advice every week to make sure I too get to the point where I can break free from this chain.
Baby steps. Just remember, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So take that step and move in the direction where you feel fulfilled and get to experience life to its fullest capacity.