It’s great to care about your job, and now that we have the Internet and smartphones and constant connectivity, it’s possible for hard-working people to work pretty much whenever they want. So what’s the problem?
As J. Maureen Henderson writes in a great Forbes post titled “Three Signs You’re Letting Your Job Ruin Your Life,” it’s a fine line between being a conscientious go-getter and someone completely obsessed with work. As Henderson writes, you make up one day to find “you don’t have a job, the job has you.” Before that happens, look for the warning signs.
First up: “You take your job home with you.” According to Henderson, some types of careers carry tremendous emotional burdens that naturally carry over to non-work hours. If you’re an ER nurse or a soldier, it’s probably impossible to switch off the feelings that come with your daily duties. But if you have a regular office job, and you can’t make it through a weekend day without getting all charged up about projects that aren’t getting done or coworkers that get on your nerves, you’re in trouble.
Warning sign No. 2 is that you base your personal self-worth on what happens in the workplace. If the boss gives you some praise, you’re on top of the world. If you screw up a presentation or make a suggestion at a meeting that’s shot down all around, you fall to pieces. It’s only natural to ebb and flow and seek some validation from your peers and supervisors, but if the entirety of your self-esteem is wrapped up in work, it might be time to take a step back.
The final sign Henderson mentions is living to work instead of the other way around. Once you reach the point where you’re missing key family events to put in overtime or basing your vacations around destinations that will enable you to use the minimum number of vacation days, you’ve got a problem. It’s the difference, Henderson says, between “dedication to your career” and “self-imposed servitude.” You don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line.