I am a recovering workaholic.
I love to work. But I have discovered that the pressures of my career can collapse my soul if not balanced with play. I crashed in my third year of sobriety—a total emotional break-down. I had invested my life in my job and didn’t have a cushion on which to land. I had distanced myself from my recovery program and had only co-workers for “friends.”
I was unemployable, drained, and emotionally broken.
Twenty-plus years later, I have several successful careers. The only reason I can say that now is because I took a sabbatical from my high-powered corporate career of launching companies for someone else to start a dog walking business, which I called my “recovery job.” It took several years in the company of dogs for me to regain my sense of self, earn boundaries, practice self-care, re-engage in my recovery program, and find my true career path that I’m on today.
I learned that I can juggle much more than I thought—my own businesses, a very satisfying personal life, and giving back to my community, as long as I take care of myself first and closely adhere to my top nine work recovery tools:
When I’m at work, I work. I focus on what I’m doing and leave my personal issues at the door. I have a virtual filing cabinet in my brain. I put my pressing challenges in drawers and keep them firmly closed until I’m ready. If all my drawers are open, the filing cabinet falls over, and I’m completely immobilized.
2. Time Management
I track my life on an electronic calendar that syncs between my computer and phone. I review this calendar regularly throughout the day and set alerts for important engagements. My calendar also provides a virtual container for my life. I can live in the moment rather than worrying about what’s coming up next. I minimize stress and anxiety by setting aside time on my calendar to prepare for appointments and engagements. A paper calendar can also start you off in the right direction until you’re ready to go electronic!
Create “to do” lists either electronically or on paper. I’m actually pretty old school and have multiple lists on paper. Each list is a project category, both personal and professional. It gives me great satisfaction to cross off “done” items. When I put a task on a “to do” list, I know it’s safely there, won’t be forgotten, and there for me when I’m ready to focus on it. I can let it go!
4. Self Care
Take breaks every couple hours! Include healthy snacks, meditation, prayer, a quick check-in phone call, breathe, stretch. Get outside in nature if you can.
Dress for success; dress for the job you aspire to, even if you work remotely or have a uniform. Start your day with an invigorating, energizing bath or shower. Water is cleansing to mind, body and soul. I get my best inspirations while showering! Keep a notepad in the bathroom! I put on clean clothes, check the mirror. Feeling renewed and fresh, I’m ready to launch into the day with enthusiasm, feeling abundant and grateful.
Get a side hustle; learn something new. Take a class. This strategy takes the pressure off your regular job, which may or may not be all you want for a career. Volunteer. Help someone else. Busy people get more things done.
Update your resume. You never know when the next opportunity will come your way. Get help from a friend or professional with this; a second eye will help you uncover skills and talents you may not even know you have!
8. Combatting Fear, Doubt, and Insecurity
Overwhelmed? Procrastinating? Suffering from Perfectionism? Do one small task. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. You’ll be amazed that one small step leads to a flow through to more action.
This list isn’t meant to overwhelm, but to inspire: Just for the love of it, try a new sport, take up a hobby, join a club, think about what would ignite your passion, get off social media for a day and walk in nature. There are so many things you can do instead of watching TV that don’t cost a lot of money. Brainstorm with your friends, family! Enjoy the journey! If you find it impossible to work with these tools, then maybe it’s time for a change.