I hear this a lot from my clients and colleagues:
“I’m spending so much more time with my job, and much less time on a lot of other things I want to do personally and professionally.”
This is no surprise, given unrelenting management pressure, productivity concerns, market craziness, business or personal insecurity, and lots of other reasons.
Everyone can come up with examples where they "gave in" to something or someone. Here are some others I’ve heard:
“I missed spending time with my family because I worked late New Year’s Eve to process a big order coming in last minute from a key customer and to make sure the Sales organization met its goals for the year. By the way, the Sales rep had a great time at their New Year’s Eve party!”
“I’m spending too much time with an incompetent internal customer who just doesn’t seem to be able to perform her job. Why am I doing her job?”
“I over-commit to do things because no one believes me when you say ‘I can’t do it’ due to my history and reputation as a miracle worker who finds a way to get things done.”
“I work late and on weekends to catch up on email and to do other management work because I don’t have time to do during a normal work day due to all the interruptions for operational issues that come up.”
“I gave up a long-planned weekend skiing trip, because my team and I had to launch a new website that got delayed at the last minute and rescheduled to that weekend.”
It makes sense if a person making any of these statements feels victimized, upset, or angered by circumstances out of their control. Many of us have had similar experiences and feelings.
What you can do about it
There aren't any general answers to any of these, because each is a situation based on a specific, unique individual and circumstances. We can speculate many reasons and circumstances for why anyone would make any of these choices. That's my point: a person experiencing a situation like any of these has options.
Here are some options people have considered, and how they relate to the examples above.
- Do nothing. Even if you feel the victim, it could serve you, for the moment, because you may protect yourself from risks, and may attract the protection or sympathy of others. It can feel good to hear from your friends at work that they think it sucks that you had to work on a holiday. Or, it can feel good (at least for the moment) to complain on a website or blog that your company doesn’t value your personal time, until you are fired.
- Simply agree to live with the situation, for the moment. You may feel more positive just because you are making a conscious choice. Accept that the shift in the website launch schedule didn’t happen TO you, it just happened, and no one else can substitute for you, so be at peace.
- Find something about the situation that aligns with who you are. Recognize that it’s more important to you to be accepted as a miracle worker than it is to have too much on your plate, at this point in time.
- Reconcile the situation by getting something for it. Agree with the Sales Manager that you’ll work New Year’s Eve if he gives you a generous gift card to a very nice restaurant for your efforts; then take your family out to dinner in January.
- Demonstrate your service commitment to and respect of the company and its people. Track the situations where you interact with incompetent people, then analyze the results and make and implement a recommendation such as creating a training program or documentation.
- Look deeper into the situation and do something that fundamentally fixes it. Since many of the week-day interruptions come from your staff seeking your approval, set up strict “office hours” for them to access you during the work day, and coach them on self-confidence and time management, so that eventually the demand for your time reaches a new balance.
- Eliminate the situations where you are giving in, range from tweaking your roles and responsibilities, to shifting to another job in the company, or leaving the company. When it becomes clear that working on weekends is a deeply held cultural value of the company with which you do not agree, decide to find another place to work.
When you’re "giving in", you’re still making a choice. It’s likely a default or subconscious choice, and it’s likely a choice based on fear or anger or other negative motivators. When you feel like you’re giving in, it’s a cue to consider making other choices.
When you make conscious choices, you begin to introduce awareness, non-judgment, intuition, and as a result, access and experience more positive energy. This is a key element of being a leader.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets