How Stressful Will 2008 Be For You?
By: Suzanne Doyle Morris
How was your 2007? What were your successes?
What would like you to do differently in the coming year? Did it feel overwhelming at times, juggling the life you want to live with a fulfilling career?
Given my interest in work-life balance and the state of the modern workplace, I read a survey last year on the rise of "extreme jobs" - those that seemingly demand 60+ hour working week and a personal life that takes a backseat.
You have an extreme job if five or more of the following characteristics apply to your role:
1. unpredictable flow of work
2. large amount of travel
3. tight deadlines and a fast pace
4. after-hours work events
5. 24/7 availability to clients
6. responsibility for profit and loss
7. mentoring and recruiting of colleagues
8. an assumption of being a physical presence at the office at least 10 hours a day.
Globally, while men are much more likely to have these types of jobs, a good third of those in such roles are women - women like my clients who lament they "need a wife" to handle all the domestic tasks that don't get done when they are working such long hours. What is interesting to me is how exhilarating many people initially find these careers. Society puts a high financial value on these jobs - they are often prestigious and well remunerated for the hours and energy they demand. True, is wonderful to feel fulfilled in a career to which you would want to dedicate so much time and energy. However, what I sometimes see in my practice are people who work long hours until they began to suffer the physical symptoms of chronic stress. As rewarding as work can be, our bodies often tell us, through headaches, ulcers and digestion problems, we are overworking before our minds are willing to accept it.
According to the Health and Safety Executive in 2002, work-related stress, depression and anxiety account for 13.4 million working days lost per year, more than any other work-related illness in the UK and costs £400 million a year. Stress and overwork are often seen as an individual's problem, though it is pandemic - the World Heath Organisation estimates stress will cause half of the ten most common medical problems in the world by 2020 - a shocking statistic in a world where over half of people can't rely on safe drinking water.
It is my job to help clients identify their priorities and feel better balanced - with a fulfilling career but without the negative ramifications of an "extreme job". I'd invite you to honestly think about how many characteristics from the above list apply to you. If it is too many for your liking, consider the following questions to help prepare for a better 2008.
Stress Check for 2008
1. How stressful was your job in 2007?
2. Can you maintain that level of stress?
3. How does your body react to stress?
4. What are the signs you are stressed? Who notices these signs?
5. What tasks could you delegate to have less stress in 2008?
6. What would that give you?
Copyright (c) 2008 Suzanne Doyle Morris
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