I work all the time and am starting to lose it. My friends accuse me of having Stockholm Syndrome because I really do like my job even though it consumes me. I’m starting to make mistakes and snap at people because I’m so tired. I can’t leave at a normal time because then the work wouldn’t get done. Suggestions? N.W., Hoboken, NJ
The missing piece here is why you’re choosing to work these hours. Are you understaffed? Does your manager have unrealistic expectations? Are you a perfectionist who has difficulty delegating?
If it’s one of the first two issues, you’ll need to set stronger boundaries and change expectations regarding what’s possible for you to do. If the issue is perfectionism, then you’ll need to take a hard look at why you’re behaving in this way. If you don’t trust your team, you’ll need to up-level them either through training or by managing them out. If the issue lies with you, then you need to determine why you’re sacrificing your personal time for work. It may be a tradeoff you want to make. If it’s not, you’ll need to deal with whatever is keeping you at work.
We train people how we want them to interact with us. You’ve been doing this so long that the expectation is that you’ll continue to do so. The company has no reason to make any changes if the work is getting done. Essentially you’re hiding a problem in the business—whether it’s staffing, volume, or your inability to self-manage. It’s your responsibility to let your manager know what the issue is if they aren’t aware. If they are aware, then you need to stop filling the gaps. It will be difficult but it’s the only fair thing to do both for you and the business.
You aren’t a prisoner unless you choose to be. Take action and make the right decision for both you and the business. And if you enjoy your work so much that you want to dedicate more time to it, make sure you correct your friend’s misperceptions.
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