Is being too devoted to your job a virtue?

If you're usually at the receiving end of jokes and statements about your workaholic nature, it's time to reevaluate your commitment to your job

Bhavna Dalal
Published: 08, Nov 2018

Bhavna Dalal ( www.bhavnadalal.com) is the Founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners [www.talentpowerpartners.com] a Leadership Development company based in Bangalore, India. She is a Team Leadership Coach with ICF PCC Certification, IIM Calcutta Executive MBA, and B.E.(Electronics). Also, the author of the book Team Decision Making [https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01MXF5QEM] endorsed by former CEO's of Target, Lowes, LimitedBrands,bank of Baroda, 3M , Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Dr. Manoj Pardasani (Associate Dean Fordham University) and many others. Bhavna has been serving on the Board of Directors of Bodhi Education Society (A not-for-profit that supports schools in rural Andhra Pradesh in India ) for the past 5 years.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

We spend a lot of waking hours of our lives doing the work that we do. Our careers are a significant part of who we are. Most people I know work very hard at their jobs continuously. So much so that it becomes a big part of their identity and who they are.

You may say this is what organisations want, correct? In reality, that is not true. There has been enough research that proves that to be highly productive at work you need a delicate balance with the other areas of your life too. It is not sustainable to only be focused at work. At some point, you will turn bitter and crash and burn.

If you believed that being too devoted at work is a virtue you enjoy carrying around like a badge, think again. The problem is that if your work is all you care about, you are possibly very heavily emotionally vested in it. That may bring you down more often than lift you.

Let us look at what may happen if this is the case:

1. You take feedback too seriously It’s a fact that we all do somethings well and need to get better at others. No one is perfect. People that are too committed find it harder to hear developmental feedback. Somewhere a part of them is convinced that to feel worthy they need to give it their all. That image of themselves is shattered with such feedback. Objectively feedback is an excellent opportunity to see what you need to do more or less of.

2. You don’t disconnect
If you are someone that takes work home and are always busy even at gatherings with family and friends, please know that you are not doing anyone a favor, least of all yourself.

Your impression in your mind and others may be that you are so proactive and dedicated. However, if you don’t disconnect, you will stay mired in the mundane and will not be able to give yourself space for creative and innovative ideas to come to you, which are so required for your success at work itself.

3. Your identity is your career
Identifying too tightly to any one identity is a recipe for disaster. Our idea of who we really are is the driving force between whatever we set out to achieve. We play many roles throughout the day that help us experience our lives in the best way that we want. If all these roles are mainly played out by you at the workplace or if you see yourself as in such a narrow manner it is safe to say it is not most healthy. Have you thought about if time and money were not a constraint what would you really like doing? What do you care about outside of work? What is it that truly bring you joy?

4. Your Relationships Are Rocky
Do you often get underlying jokes about your workaholic habits from friends and family? How fulfilling are your relationships outside of work?

In this fast-changing environment, jobs will come and go, your relationships are what are most meaningful to you as a person. It becomes crucial to invest time, effort and energy in those relationships outside of work.

It is an admirable quality to care about your job so much, however, being only invested in your career can be damaging to both your professional and personal life. By recognising these symptoms, it is possible to keep your level of emotional intensity and involvement at work balanced to thrive at a holistic level and not just in your career.

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