It started out like any other show.
Wendy Williams, daytime TV presenter, was hosting her annual costume contest. In costume herself, she was bedecked in green foil from head to toe while dressed as the Statue of Liberty, in an outfit that included a large headdress.
All went well until it was time to read the winners of the contest. Visibly distressed, she confused her words, then suddenly stopped talking. With a stricken expression on her face, she collapsed to the ground. The live show immediately went to black.
When the show returned to air after an extended commercial break, Williams was smiling and announced that it was unplanned. "I'm overheated in my costume and did pass out. But you know what? I'm a champ and I'm back."
At the end of the show, she was once again confused, saying "Is that the end of the show? Was I passed out that long?!"
In a statement, her publicist said Wendy was "dehydrated" and had returned home for a "night of sleep." After stating that a medical examination deemed her fit, they further mentioned that "She is okay and will continue shows as planned... She has never missed a day of work and is looking forward on November 13th to her 1,500th show."
As entrepreneurs, it is often seen as a badge of honor to be overcommitted.
These are the common traps of a workaholic:
- You put aside everything for more work.
- You always find time to work, (and where there isn't any, you make it).
- You will put aside family and friends for work.
- You prioritize work over your health.
I'm not immune to this behavior.
In March of 2013, I broke my foot -- simply by walking into my office. I was in my mid-30s, and no matter now clumsy you are, a healthy 30-something should not break bones by tripping on a cobblestone.
Over the next few months, even after the bone healed at a slower rate than expected, I started losing weight. While not immediately noticeable, coworkers eventually started asking me "Are you tired?" and "Are you stressed?" and the worst one of all -- "Are you sick?"
It honestly hadn't occurred to me.
Why not? I was busy working. While my foot was healing, I was so busy with an "important" project that I refused to take the pain medication prescribed -- and I was able to finish the project in half the time, giving us more time to test it.
Once I was able to travel for work again, I was off and running as if the accident never happened. I didn't spend any time to think about me -- only the company. I thought that I needed to make up the time I'd taken away from them.
In the spring of 2014 I finally got around to going to the doctor to find out why I had lost so much weight. After a series of tests, it turned out I had tumors blocking my intestinal track -- with a quick surgery they were removed, but if we had waited any longer it could have been a different story.
Here are some things I've learned to help you be not too committed:
One of the first things I ask people when I start working with them is: What's your own measure of success? So many people haven't stopped to think about this, which can keep them working forever with no end in sight.
Work smarter, not harder.
Once you have a measurable goal to reach, you will start to come up with ways to achieve it. Tony Robbins is a huge proponent of using a day planner to track your overall categories for progress, which you then chunk down into months, weeks and days of things to do. This reduces stress by making each thing more manageable.
Once you have your goals set, check in frequently and simply ask "How am I doing?" Pay attention to both your successes and failures. With this one simple thing, you'll notice that you are actually making progress toward your goals, making them more achievable.
Take your vacation days.
The average employee has only taken 54 percent of their vacation days, and 55 percent of Americans don't take their vacation days because they feel they will be replaced if they do. If you're acting out of fear, that will only increase your stress levels, whereas taking vacation will increase productivity overall.
Untether from technology.
A recent study has shown that just having your technology around you, even if you aren't using it, the worse off you are in brain power and sleep cycles.
Having a true technology-free day a week allows you to rest and recharge, which in turn has been shown to increase productivity and lower stress levels.
Stop wearing your workaholicism as a badge of honor -- it's not. The real mark of success is a laser-sharp focus on what is truly essential and a sustainable work-life balance, rather than working for the sake of work.