Living on Purpose: More isn’t always better
Vail CO, Colorado
If a bite of ice cream tastes great, is eating a gallon better? Is working out for three hours a day better than working out for only an hour?
We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking more is better, which then results in us acting as though more is better. We keep adding more of the “good stuff” until we’ve gone too far and life feels out of balance.
Last week I met with my client, Matt. He is married and has a full time career. In his 30s, his career commands a majority of his time. He usually describes his job with passion and enthusiasm, but lately he has been complaining about it.
“I’m not sure if things have changed or if I have just become more sensitive, but I am frustrated at work. It’s the people, the deadlines, what I’m being asked to do, and even the customers. I don’t feel as creative or alive in my job and I’m not sure why,” Matt said. “Maybe it’s time to look for another job.”
“What projects are you working on right now?”
“I am involved in a new product launch. I facilitate the focus groups that help us learn what customers want. I then communicate this to research and development. It’s very challenging and invigorating.”
As Matt described his work, he sounded interested and challenged by his position. I guessed that something else was contributing to his feelings of unhappiness.
“How many hours a week are you working?” I asked.
Matt paused, calculating the amount in his head.
“About 70 hours a week,” he said. “I didn’t realize I have been putting in that much time. After working all day, I facilitate focus groups in the evenings. I go home, eat dinner and work another 2 to 3 hours.”
“Does 70 hours a week seem like the right balance of work and the rest of your life?” I asked.
“Seventy hours is almost the same as two full-time employees. Maybe that’s why I feel like I work all of the time.”
“How much of that is productive work, where you are creative, fresh and on top of your game?” I asked.
“I’d like to think I am at my best all 70 hours, but I know that’s not true. When I stay up late working, I often find errors the next day,” he said. “Then I have to take extra time correcting work that I’ve done at home.”
“What would be the ideal number of hours to work each week?”
“Forty isn’t enough, but 70 is too much. Fifty five hours a week might allow me to complete what needs to be done while also being productive and creative. I’ve always had the mindset that more is better. It’s how I’ve run my life and I guess I’m tired of pushing myself.”
“Is your frustration at work because you don’t like your job or that work may be out of balance?”
“I love my job, but it’s taking over my life. I’d rather find balance and stay where I am,” he answered.
“How will you re-claim your life and find more balance?” I asked.
“I will only work a total of 55 hours a week. It might be tough, but it may be freeing at the same time,” he said.
“When we meet in two weeks, let’s review your progress on limiting work time and talk about your job satisfaction. It will be interesting to see if reigning in your work time will result in more job satisfaction. If not, then maybe we can explore other options,” I said.
Coaches challenges: If you complain about one area of your life, see if this is an area where you believe “more is better.”
Answer these questions: Do you spend a lot more time than other people doing this activity? If you were to draw a circle and divide it into the major areas of your life, do you spend a majority of your time in this area? If you answered yes to these questions, you may believe that “more is better.” What would the circle look like if this area were smaller (more in balance)? How would diminishing that piece of the circle translate into action steps? What will you do (remember, baby steps) to bring this area of your life into balance?
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction with her husband Tom and three sons. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.
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