Give it a Rest

Rest. Relaxation. Sabbath. Time out.2117aed415167707fccb938dfc737cf829ef1893

Whatever you call it, you need it. It is required, physically, mentally, spiritually, biblically. It is also my biggest failing (aside from my other very large failings, so don’t email me to point out a greater flaw than this one).

I can’t rest. I can’t turn my brain off. I was nursed on a work ethic that meant you were only as worthy as your most productive day. I love to work. There was even a time when working 2400 plus billable hours a year energized me (or at least the goal of hitting such a number energized me).

It also made me crash and burn. And so when I reimagined my career in 2008 or so, I vowed never to return. But my problem is that I am drawn to leaders and institutions that value work (a good thing) but sometimes also overvalue it. I like them. They are like me. The “I’m OK, you’re OK” mentality was my job screening tool for a long time.

I worked in my local church. Man, those are some hard-working people. Maybe this isn’t true in every church, but it sure is in my church. So my addiction to work was fueled. Now, it is not anyone’s fault that I overwork. That’s a choice I make. But the draw for me is excellence. And excellence comes with hard work. My boundary issue is where does the quest for excellence come at too high of a price.

I’ve been in my current position for a year. And I feel the creep coming on. I worked hard in the beginning, but it has been only recently I’ve felt the addictive power of work taking over in me again. I find myself at home, at night, very late, working.

Folks, this is not a virtue. I’m not saying there aren’t times that late work is necessary–it is necessary. But when it is constant, you are not working smart.

I forced a member of my department to 1) really take vacation and 2) not check her email this week (I mean, I told her not to; I didn’t seize her laptop or anything). It made me realize, I am not modeling what I want staff to do. Work hard, and balance hard work with rest and life.

Last week I worked about 65 hours, and it completely drained me. And yet, that was nothing in the law firm days of old. But I’m not 25 anymore. And I’m glad about that.

If you think addiction to work is a safe addiction, think again. I need to manage my work/life balance better. And I need to be chastised for letting work overtake my life again–not be praised for it, as I have been my whole life.

Are you addicted to work? Ask your kids or spouse. They will tell you the truth.

Bottom line: the size of that partner draw or corner office or 401k is going to mean squat at some point in your life. Realize it now.

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