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I'm working so hard but going no where...

There are a million reasons why we work hard.

Some are healthy reasons:

  • We feel a sense of pride in our work

  • We're connected to our colleagues and our professional community

  • We're passionate about what we're able to do and produce

  • We care about the impact our work has on the world

Others are less sustainable:

  • We feel like hard work is our ticket to approval and affection by others

  • We've tied our self-worth to how fast we climb professionally

  • We're trying to outpace our money anxiety

  • We over-function to avoid our feelings

Like any coping mechanism, there are pros and cons to working hard.

However, especially if we're using work to try and avoid things like: examining how we feel, facing up to a bad relationship, processing a past or current trauma, or recognizing a need for change, we can find ourselves in a cycle of hard work without any rewards.

These are the situations where we can work hard for years but still not internalize our success. In those moments, it can feel like there's a danger in slowing down, as if all of the things you've been avoiding will suddenly catch up with you, and we can be vulnerable to burnout.

So if you mind yourself burning the midnight oil, take a second to ask yourself:

  • If I look back on these days in a year or two, will this feel like time well-spent?

  • Is this getting me closer to the person I want to be or the life I want to live?

  • What am I trading for the extra time or effort I'm putting into my job?

  • Am I working this hard to run away from something else that I don't want to face?

  • If I worked 10-20% less, what would the consequences be? How could I benefit?

  • Who am I working this hard for (where is that voice in my head telling me to work coming from)?

  • What am I afraid will happen if I slow down?


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