Today, one of the major issues that Americans typically have with work is expecting too much from it. What do I mean by that exactly? Well, it’s quite simple. Over the years, the United States became more corporate and gained more women (i.e. more workers) to the workplace. Suddenly, both parents in a household began working full time. And the workplace—depending on the company culture—became more demanding, both in time spent as well as the rate of task completion. Our society changed so that support groups such as the church, family and community meetings were not as they once were. Gradually, from home to the workplace and back, is how Americans’ daily lives had shifted.
Did you know that Americans work about 50 percent more than Europeans (Germans, French, Italians)? Although in the 1970s, the Western Europeans worked more than Americans. Much has changed since the 1970s. The United States is guilty of working harder and longer hours than any other nation. Consequently, our country also has one of the highest divorce rates in the world.
In recent years, upon development of the Internet and social media, the importance of “family” and “community” units grew, as people continued to realize their unhappiness of placing too much significance on work. It was no wonder that social networks like Facebook and Twitter flourished, in addition to websites created so that like-minded people would actually meet, such as www.meetup.com. While this is all great, some people are still missing the boat with where they place importance.
Therefore, through all of these changes in the workforce, everyone naturally began looking to their co-workers for family-type support. Think about it. You’re at the office five days a week (sometimes more) for at least eight hours a day, working closely with your peers. For many of us, it is an automatic tendency to expect those we work with to help meet our social and emotional needs.
The workplace should be a positive, supportive and encouraging environment. How else can everyone stay on task and do a great job, while still connecting with others? However, drawn-out conversations about a hurtful breakup or varying political viewpoints should be saved for time spent with friends or family, away from the workplace.
Another side to why many professionals expect too much from their work is related to self-worth. Whether you’re a man or woman, many of us have been responsible—at one time or another—for looking to our work to feel good about ourselves. From a boss who sings your praises to a co-worker who looks up to you, it is crucial that we appreciate words of affirmation without placing our self-worth into somebody else’s hands. That is a dangerous place to continually operate out of, especially if you are not making enough time for other activities.
For example, there was a time when I allowed my mental and emotional well-being to fluctuate up and down each day at work. That was when I placed too much meaning on work and how others perceived me. Also, I expected too much out of myself. It is easy to do if you are surrounded by a corporate work culture or if you are a highly motivated person, naturally.
Whether you’ve been on one side or the other, keep in mind a few tips on how to balance life out each week, each month, and therefore, not expect too much from your job.
- Find a counselor, life coach or a good friend you can set up a meeting with at least once a month, in order to discuss what is truly going on in your life. (And no, this individual should not be your spouse or significant other.) This should be a time to open up and not worry about what anyone else thinks. Your well-being will thank you for it later.
- Set aside dates for hanging out with your spouse, children, as well as friends. It could be meeting up at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning or driving over to a nearby park. The key is to get away from the workplace—and for many of us, that is the house also—and computer, in order to spend much needed quality time.
- Take at least 15 minutes a day to focus on a dream or passion. This could mean writing in a journal, reading a book about that particular topic, or taking action steps in another way. This time should look and feel different than time at work. If it doesn’t, then it may be time to reevaluate whether it is truly your passion or dream. Now is the time to dig deep and figure out if you are acting out of who others think you are, or if what you are doing truly reflects your inner being and identity.
- If you are not aware of what you are truly interested in, and have lost part of your identity, then it would be a vital step to begin figuring that out. Take time to do some soul searching while going for a walk or winding down for the night. Try to think back to your childhood, teenage years, young adult onset and so on. Write down everything you were ever interested in, or had aspirations to do. This is a first step to discover your dreams and passions.
by Crystal Gettings