When I lived in The Cruz, one of the jobs I had was at an AIDS organization. I started out as the Volunteer Coordinator then got moved into writing grants when a boss deemed my skills worthy (I did not enjoy it but I liked getting a bigger paycheck). From there, other duties were added on and by the end I was the Director of Development, managing the grants, fundraising events, donors, and a handful of staff and a couple interns.
I worked all the time. The amount of work required of me in that position just fueled my workaholic tendencies. The organization was quite broken thanks to multiple Executive Directors who mismanaged and one who the biggest lying egomaniac I’ve ever met (but he’s a story for another day). I put 120% of myself into that job. Despite its many ups and downs, it taught me a lot about who I am as an employee and a leader.
That was the last job I had before I moved to Seattle. When I arrived here I had no job but had five weeks worth of savings. I applied many jobs and went on something like 12 interviews. I turned down jobs (clearly, it was a different job market seven years ago) because I wanted to be sure I was accepting a job that I could do well in, in an environment that would not require me to be a workaholic to prove my worth. I moved to Seattle to change my life and that meant changing my work habits.
We live in a culture that glorifies being a workaholic and being perpetually busy- two things I strive to NOT do anymore. So many people I know have their work email on their phone or check it when they are not on the clock, or worse, on vacation. YOU ARE ON VACATION SO BE ON VACATION. (Remember back before the internet when people just went on vacation from work?) I do not think that because you’re always checking into work you are a better employee than me. I do excellent work in my position. I help raise millions of dollars. And when I go on vacation, I make sure my work is done or tasks are delegated so that I can BE ON VACATION. When I leave work for the day, I leave it there. Because I have a personal life. Because life is too short to work all the damn time. Because there are people who deserve my attention, including myself who deserves down time and the opportunity for self-care.
I do not admire people who can’t turn work off. I don’t think it makes them a better employee or harder worker or more important. I feel sad for them, actually, because there should be more to life than work. I’m lucky that I have a job that I am good at, that helps the world be a better place, doing work I (usually) enjoy, and that I can leave at the office. I don’t ever want to go back to my old workaholic ways. It didn’t make me a better worker and it definitely didn’t make me a better person.
What about you? Are you a workaholic or a recovering workaholic? What do you think about this?