Yesterday, I had a quiet hour at the office which I used to reflect on what the past month has been like: what’s gone well, what could have gone better and what lessons I’ve learned from the curveballs that life has thrown my way.
As many of my loyal readers know, I have a love-hate relationship with my work, in the sense that sometimes I may love it a little too much that I invest too much of myself in it, and when things go wrong it affects me on an almost unhealthy level.
I went through a period where I was so stressed because I got this stupid notion of taking on the problems of an entire department on my unfit could-use-a-workout shoulders. Looking back, I think this was the reason why I was picking fights with my colleagues, magnifying the slightest of slights and why I was unable to shake off even the most minor of incidents. I have (and probably always will be) a dweller, but the way I dwelled on work-related stressors in October was ridiculous, even for me.
So what changed in November?
Simple. I made the conscious decision to actually have a life outside of work. For example, my blogging activities increased tenfold from where it was in October to where it is now.
More importantly, I began to see purpose in what I was doing. What started out as just another social media platform for me to maintain became a tool in which I could reach, for example, book lovers like myself. I’ve actually been asked to do book reviews for external websites and last week I just got my first paid editorial book review order. Not bad for someone whose first language isn’t English.
I’ve tried to socialise more, keep in touch and reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a while and also to keep trying even when I’ve had a series of really bad dates. I haven’t found the time to visit the gym because of my schedule, but I’ve tried to workout at home at least three times a week, and to develop a healthier relationship with food. My
Fatness Fitness Pal is quite happy with my daily calorie log for November which is always a good indicator for my stress levels because when I’m stressed, boy, I eat.
But the main difference is that I’ve also developed a healthy detachment from work. I don’t mean to say that I’ve disengaged with it, more like I’ve learned to let go of the things that I can’t control and to focus more on the things that are within my capacity to change.
And because I’ve actually developed a life outside of work, its easier for me to switch off work mode once I’ve left the building. And when things aren’t quite going the way I want to, I at least know that I have something else to look forward to when I get home.
I’ve always preached about having a healthy-work life balance but I’ve never been able to manage walking the walk rather than just talking the talk. But if I’ve learned anything from these past couple of months, its that you’ll be able to love your work more if you keep it at a distance, and most importantly, if you keep it separate from your personal life (and personal relationships!).
I am fortunate enough to love my job, both aspects of it – education and orthopaedics. But. I need a life outside of it, and what I badly needed this month is to re-connect with myself as a person. I don’t want my whole life to be about what I do at work. Who am I when I’m not a practice educator or an orthopaedic scrub nurse?
I am so much more than just those two things. I have varied interests and I am capable of a lot of other things. There are other things that make me truly happy apart from getting recognition at work. And in the end, success at work means nothing if you are utterly and truly miserable the whole time. As one of my students like to say, success without happiness is the worst kind of failure.
So I’ve made this lengthy entry when what I actually meant to say can be summed up in three words (two three-word phrases in fact): shake it off. Get a life. You’ll be a much better person for it.