Sometimes I feel like opportunity is attracted to my overwhelm. I could be having the slowest month. Plenty of downtime. Then when something I’ve been planning forever gets put on the calendar, things pile up. In response, I go into extreme workaholic mode and just try to do it all.
Here’s just 1 example. I’ve been planning to move to the beach for 4 months now. Somehow, all my travel and trainings fell within 3 weeks of this weekend. I’m talking seven sessions across four time zones while I spent every night going through our rental room by room. I really should be faster at this packing thing by now, but it takes time. Time, of course, is the one thing I don’t have a ton of.
Sometimes I think the universe is testing me. It wants to know if I’m really going to hold on to those boundaries I speak so highly of when I write these letters. If I’ll choose taking care of myself over getting everything done.
I have failed miserably at this test yet again. In corporate America, I had some boss to blame for my extreme workaholic behaviors. I felt like I was earning this check they wrote me every two weeks by ignoring my personal needs. Work came first. I had this looming fear of not working hard enough.
I am the boss to blame now. I have all the flexibility in the world in theory. The only person who can yell at me is me. That’s the whole deal with entrepreneurship – you’re the boss. You can work when you want as long as projects are delivered on time. Key words: in theory.
But it’s harder to shake corporate guilt after years of extreme workaholism. It shows up like an addiction. A whisper. A craving. This voice that says you’re just clocking success and it’s just a matter of minutes until you will feel successful. It makes you wake up in the middle of the night and open your laptop instead of rolling over.
The worst part is that every extra hour often earns people more responsibility, not freedom. It reinforces the extremes with a message that says working that hard is the “right thing.” However, I know from personal experience that all of the extremes come at a cost to everything else that’s important for a rich life – physical well being, emotional, and psychological.
While I doubt I’ll ever be able to abandon these workaholic tendencies, I am making more of an effort to create balance and how to apply other extremes for well-being. If I’m going to blow off these boundaries, I have to apply extremes elsewhere. Extreme rest. I’ll set the schedule that works for me without worrying the time off will add up. Extreme vacations. I will let myself live at the beach for 3 months instead of 3 days.
But I will not allow extreme guilt for taking the time to rest drag me into a life where every day is for work.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.