It is no secret that I am a recovering workaholic. At my low point, I worked 90 hours a week, which was destroying my health, relationships, and my career. I brought balance to my life, but it took me a long time. Mussar helped me understand the root cause of my overwork. Here, I’ll share with you a mussar practice for work life balance.
Three Common Arguments That Rationalize Overwork
- Fear: Some people blame their employer for “forcing them to work all the time.” For example, they are afraid that they will be fired if they do not promptly respond to email.
- Love: Others work all the time out of a sense of mission and devotion. For example, many rabbis flirt with burnout because they love the congregation and service to God.
- Happiness. People in this category say, “Yes, I work all the time, but it makes me happy. What’s wrong with that?”
Three Soul Traits To Help You Establish a Mussar Practice For Work Life Balance
- Enthusiasm. Excess work may indicate excess Enthusiasm for the wrong things. Rather than trying to work less, refocus Enthusiasm. Make health, family, and/or community a higher priority. Work is still important, but is it as important as your health? Of course not.
- Trust. Attachment to work is emotional, and change can be laced with fear. Invest in trusting that God has your back, and that whatever happens, you will be ok. If you are unsure about the Divinity, remember that most things turn out ok. Make a few small, exploratory steps to build confidence and overcome the fear.
- Order. Strictly rank your work projects, and focus on the top three. Get your manager to agree to the order, and agree that the other things are a lower priority. Next, do not accept any meetings or last minute requests that are not part of the top three. Offer kind alternatives – 5 minutes on the phone instead of a 30 minute meeting, or offer to meet the following week.