This post is for those hard-driving type-A: climb-the corporate ladder people. I became one of those people when I turned 27. Later in life, I learned to balance work and other aspects of my life, but sometimes I relapse.
We traveled from Sacramento to Chicago to celebrate our son’s and grandson’s birthdays. Our daughter-in-law and son are wonderful hosts and know how to bring people together. We had a wonderful time meeting with family and friends over 11 days. While there I had planned to write and post my weekly blog and host a podcast as well as market my Life Coaching practice online. I had also planned to do my daily workout routine. Then I said to myself – wait! I’m on vacation, I am a recovering workaholic about to relapse.
I wasn’t always driven. I had a chance to go to the Air Force Academy after graduating from high school. My high school principal had connections there. I didn’t realize how valuable the experience would have been for me personally and possibly for race relations. I could have been a trailblazer. However, I was a free spirit. I didn’t want my life mapped out for the next 20 years. I wanted to explore new things; to land where the wind blew me. I started at Elmhurst College, a private college in a Chicago suburb, then transferred to Western Illinois University (WIU), a medium-size public school, in an extremely rural community in Illinois. My dream was to play college and possibly pro football. A few football players had been drafted into the National Football League from there because WIU had great football teams. Little did I know my playing days were over due to a nagging injury.
After soul searching and exploring other aspects of college life, I decided to supplant the energy and passion once dedicated to sports into academics. I discovered the Dean’s List. I earned a BA and MS. Graduating with two degrees was great, but still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but the benefits of being a free spirit were fading. When I realized my upside potential was limited, I became driven, and I was all about climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. While working full-time I enrolled in an MBA program at Illinois State University. I was married and had three children. From a career standpoint, I felt so far behind and needed to put in extra time and effort to catch up. That’s how and why I became a workaholic. I was doing very well, I had a great work team, but operated as if they couldn’t do without me. No matter how successful we were, I didn’t think it was good enough and then the epiphany – major illness.
Significant emotional experiences like an illness, accident, and/or loss are perspective-changing. My illness helped me to balance my work and my life. It forced me to pause long enough to realize that many of the sacrifices I made as well as the time and energy devoted to work could have robbed me of precious time with my family that can’t be recovered. Before it was too late I learned the ways in which I could be more present and engage with family members’ lives.
I reposted this meme on LinkedIn and received nearly 950 views and comments. “You are replaceable at work. You’re not replaceable at home. Home is your life. Keep that perspective always.” It applies to me and a lot of other people. It is something for all would-be workaholics to consider in order to avoid the mistakes of others.