Guys tend to identify strongly with the work that they do. We’re taught that the work we do is who we are. When we meet people, at parties or at networking groups, the first question we usually ask is “What do you do?”
The notorious workaholics we know are usually guys. It’s a masculine-themed issue in our culture. We’ve become a society that has seen a standard workweek increase from 40-hours a week to 50 and 60 or more. What happened to us? Isn’t there more to us? Fortunately, the recession – although devastating in any number of ways – has given us an opportunity to get back to basics, and invest in those people and experiences that bring value to our lives, aside for just work.
Work is a strong source of self-esteem for men, and provides us with different identities. When work is good, we see ourselves as a breadwinner to our families and children (or pets), a successful son or husband, and powerful. When it’s not so good, or we’re laid off or drifting between jobs, we might experience shame, powerlessness or “poverty mentality”.
Let’s put our eggs in a couple of different baskets, shall we? Good investors learn to diversify, to spread their investments among their portfolio for balance. I propose the same for developing better work/life balance. If work tips too far to one side of the scales in your life, maybe work on developing other, equally important parts of your life.
- Do I manage my work stress effectively? What could be different?
- Do I have the support systems I need (e.g. friends, family, hobbies)? If not, how do I boost them up?
- Does my work affect other parts of my life, like my relationship or marriage?
- Do I tend to overidentify with my job or career? Does it affect other relationships?
Learning to deal with stress is an important component, en route to better work-life balance. Here’s a free stress management worksheet for you to better assess and change your stress: http://phoenixmenscounseling.com/clinicalforms/stress-inventory.pdf.