Does your job keep you up at night?
Do you work too hard?
Do you care too much?
Yeah, I’ve been there.
I’ve always been a little too serious with a highly developed sense of responsibility. This trait carried over into my work, in a serious way. I tried to do it all and rarely said no. I stressed myself to the point it started to affect my health. After several significant illnesses I realized something had to give- my body already was.
I made a conscious choice to stop taking work too seriously. I had to give up my inflated sense of responsibility and importance. I had to make mistakes, have fun, let go, and simply be happier at work!
What did it take to stop taking work so seriously?
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I am virtually unable to be happy and stressed (or angry, or sad) at the same time. Focusing on being happy meant I felt less stress and was less likely to take every little thing that happened during the day to heart.
Being happy is easier than I thought once I stopped thinking happiness comes from the outside instead of the inside.
Be responsible for me and me only
As a manager I thought my employee’s performance was ultimately my problem. I tried directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. If an employee didn’t live up to my expectations I was sure I was the one that failed. I made myself crazy and undoubtedly make other people a little crazy, too.
I cannot control what anyone else thinks, says, or does- that’s up to them! I can be responsible for me and me only.
Be a team player
I not only took on responsibility for my employees and co-workers, I took on responsibility for the overall business success. But one player alone cannot win or lose the game. The more responsibility I accepted, the more serious I was about my work.
Seeing myself as part of the team helped me give up some of my responsibility and share it. Plus, it’s just more fun to work with others!
Ask for help
If a job was assigned to me, well, then I was going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Only, it turns out, “whatever it takes” sometimes meant working myself sick.
Work is less overwhelming when it’s shared. So, I started asking for help. The best part of asking for help wasn’t even the help I received, but the relationships I improved with the people that worked with me.
Not only did I say yes to just about every request, I volunteered to take on more without even being asked! I’m sure it’s no surprise to you I was overburdened, overworked and over-serious!
I started to say no, not only to others, but also to my desire to be helpful to others all the time.
My fear of mistakes was one of the main reasons I took work too seriously- what if I screwed up? I still made mistakes and I was seriously stressed out every time I did. When I began to accept and even embrace mistakes I stopped stressing myself out and started having more fun with my work.
Do my best and forget the rest
All I can do is my best today, and nothing more. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of me, or expects of me. It doesn’t really matter what I think or expect from myself! Since I don’t control what happens next, I’ve found it easier to focus on just doing my part. In the end all I can really do is my best.
The more I focused on goals, results, and achievements, the more seriously I took my work. I gave all of myself today for a presumed future win but it was like planting spring seeds and not watering them- with my mind always on tomorrow I wasn’t making the most of today. Focusing on simply doing my best work for this day only made today whole lot happier and yielded better results.
Believe in myself
Another reason I took work so seriously was because I worried what might happen if I lost my job. I tended towards worst-case-scenario thinking and imagined myself becoming homeless and living on the street. While losing everything was a possibility, it wasn’t very likely to happen. I needed to believe in myself.
I am a competent, smart, and resourceful person. When I was laid off I bounced back just fine. I didn’t end up homeless. Was losing my job difficult?- hell yeah, it was- but I got through it. Whatever happens, I’ll face it. I can do this!
If there was one underlying reason I was too serious about my work it’s because I was constantly assigning either positive or, most of the time, negative value to everyone and everything that happened at work.
Instead of doing my best with what’s in front of me I lamented and complained over every perceived injustice. I made myself miserable! I had to stop blaming everyone and everything to find some peace in my work and my life.