I love my work
For my first job I moved to a new city, even a new county. I started in sales of goods that need explanation, where I managed great customer projects, traveled around the world and lead customer trainings. I was the first female sales engineer of the company which came with challenges on its own. My co-workers didn’t know what to do with me and how to interact with me at the beginning, which actually lead to some funny situations (like who opens the door). But after some weeks we had that figured out.
At the weekends I traveled to visit old classmates, during the week I worked.
I worked hard. As it was my first job my goal was to get accepted. Especially starting as a women, I thought, I had to put even more effort into my work.
This went very well. I was respected, not only by coworkers, but also by our customers.
After a few years we started a new product management department and I was part of the first hours. I had a great experience to help build up something like this and since it was a new department I worked even harder to establish it.
Sometime into my first years of work life I realized that I had not made friends, outside of work, where I live and also had neglected the “old” ones, because I was just too tired to drive a few hundred kilometers to meet them. For me this was ok at that time- it allowed me more time to work.
Nobody asked me to do this- no pressure- only the one I put on myself.
What I didn’t realize was, that I defined myself by my job; including the success I had there, forgetting there is more to life than that. Also more that defines me.
I managed well for quite a while- up until a point where I did not succeed in the job, at least not in my own eyes. This caused me to question everything I had myself defined for. Me as a person. On top it also caused me to work even more, to get my success back- to be somebody again. It was time for me to find out, that sometimes it is just too much or too little.
Wake up call
Finally my body said stop to this. Calling an ambulance at 3 am thinking you have a heart attack makes you listen. I started a journey back to myself, that I am not only the work person, but also a private person. Trying to make new friends in the city I had already lived in for years. I went into sports clubs. At the beginning this felt really funny. Try going to a club meeting and tell them you moved there 4-5 years ago and you haven’t done anything before.
At work I started with little steps. One of them was working from home one day per week to get things done without interruption. This not only helped the workload, but it also taught me a lesson. On the days l was not in the office the team managed very well without me being present and the project was still running and in good condition. The team didn’t want to disturb me on that day so they dealt with the upcoming problems themselves instead of coming to me for a decision or doing the needed task.
After some months I did feel better. Not only had I reasons to leave work, but also I was able to focus better on what I do. Of course, I still got my work done, in less time. I just did not do as much of the others’ work anymore.
To accomplish this I also had some professional help. I told her I like what I am doing, which was the truth, but still it left me burnt out. Up untill now I still love what I do, have difficulties saying no– but need energy to enjoy my private life!
I still walk a thin line and I guess I always will, but I learned a few lessons:
- Don’t let the job define you.
- It is ok to work hard- but you also need to enjoy your free time!
- Work does still run without me.
- There is no running from it, you need to change.
You are in a similar situation- don’t wait for your body to tell you “Stop”, start making little changes now! Because sometimes it is just too much or too little!
Takeing time is a problem- find it!
Are you deep in it already- get help- it is not bad to seek help!