Just for fun, this month’s theme on DPSN is ‘bad habits’. We’ve given our bloggers the chance to highlight what they think the worst bad habits of others are…or, if they are brave enough, to reveal to you their own! As always, we’re keen for you to be part of the conversation, so let us know what you think when you hear the phrase ‘bad habits’’ in the comments below, or jump over to our Facebook page and join the conversation.
When the DPSN team brainstormed this month’s blog theme, ‘bad habits’, I thought “uh oh, it’s confession time!” But the more I thought about my own bad habits (of which I am sure I have many) the more one has really stood out to me – and that’s my really bad habit of over-working myself.
Now, I know that sounds like one of those annoying answers that you give at job interviews. You know the ones, where they ask what your weaknesses are and you give an answer that’s actually something that makes you sound like you’ll be an awesome employee.
But the reality is that my life since early adulthood has been characterised by hell of a lot of hard work. I remember back when I was 17 years old and first moved out of home, having three to four different part time jobs alongside my full time university study, just so that I could afford to pay rent, bills and a myriad of other expenses you have to pay in adulthood. I kept this up for five years before graduating and working full-time for two years (on minimum wage, which was another financial struggle resulting in more than one job). I then then returned for another five years of uni (I know, I’m a sucker for punishment) and again, worked multiple part-time jobs while managing full-time study, just to make ends meet. I also added in a significant number of hours of volunteering each week, as I knew this would also help me out when it came to my new career goals.
The whole ‘over-working’ theme finally cumulated in 2014 when I worked a full-time, unpaid internship over the year…while still working evenings and weekends at my paid job, volunteering each week, attending classes, completing assignments, giving presentations and sitting oral exams. Over the course of the year I ended up extremely sick (with colds, sinus infections, strep throat, bronchitis and eventually pneumonia!) and pretty miserable to boot.
Now I’m not complaining about having to do any of the above, because I’m well aware that it was my choice to undertake so much study. But it was fairly obviously in the final run that this wasn’t in any way an enjoyable, balanced or sustainable way of living long-term. I did finally graduate (for the last time, I hope) in early 2015 and I am very pleased to say that the hard work paid off, in terms of getting to do the job that I trained for and enjoy immensely (and getting paid more than minimum wage for it is a bonus too!)
I thought at first that I would be totally thrilled at not having to stretch myself far beyond healthy boundaries and that I would be able to restore some balance to my life. However instead I started noticing a very strange feeling in myself, particularly outside of official ‘work’ hours. I felt somehow like I should be doing something else, that I should be working on something. That I should be learning a new skill, or starting my own business, or taking up a new hobby…that I’m somehow wasting my time by just relaxing and doing ‘nothing’ (even after an eight hour work day).
Yep, totally crazy right? But I think the reality is that I’ve had to work so hard for so long, that it’s become a bad habit to be working all the time…and having actual down-time (what a concept!) actually feels really unfamiliar. And sometimes, even uncomfortable.
So I set myself a new goal. A goal to do nothing. No vision boards, no life or business plans, no “I want to be here in five years”. Just, nothing. Well, obviously still working (those bills don’t pay themselves) but other than paid work, not booking up any of my free time to work towards other goals. Instead I’m working on breaking my bad habit of over-working.
It’s kind of hard, actually. I still feel like I should be doing more in my free time. But I’m acknowledging and accepting the feeling, and instead filling it with good people and relaxing activities. It probably sounds like a very boring and normal life – but that’s kind of the whole point!
So how about you? Have you noticed any bad habits that you’re trying to break?