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The Corporate Syndrome | Career above Health

For more than 20 years, my life revolved around making it up to the corporate ladder.

It was all about status and respect, getting recognition from my peers, suppliers and influential partners. It was all about chasing that next title with a matching paycheque by taking on more tasks than one can carry. Holidays were just to get a spot of new air in my lungs, a new environment while stuck to my computer to read the latest email and reply right away. I worked with a mental image only to get that next gold medal. Or reach your own Mount Everest before resetting your new corporate targets. It was never enough.

Breaks during the day for a stretch? Not on my daily itinerary. Yeah, toilet breaks, but that was as far as I would go. And the weekend drinking catch-ups as my sole means to blow off some steam.

Was I setting boundaries? It was something that I simply did not include in my dictionary. Working hours were not determined by my circadian clock but by the amount of work I could complete within 24 hours.

It may sound excessive and unrealistic. But trust me, the struggle was real. And the energy put in was as real as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

And still, many ambitious young professionals gaze towards the future with this burnt on their retinas, watching how other successful entrepreneurs made it. It all looks so easy. Follow their philosophies, train your goal-setting skills and tasks connected to them. 

We are more stuck to their desk or meeting chair than ever. Many corporate goal settings are only aiming for their version of getting that elevated status. And yet thinking that it’s all done for our better future, our early retirement. Time is money but is it spent wisely?

We love what we do. Yes, we do. I enjoy the industry I am working in now for donkey’s years. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Also, this is a true winner. And there is absolutely nothing wrong to aim for that pat on the shoulder.

The corporate world moves fast and will move slightly faster with every stroke of the clock. New technologies keep up us stuck to our screens longer and longer. Many pride themselves on having done another all-nighter to make deadlines, get that tick off and that dopamine release of a job well done.

Just Google for working ethics in Japan. They even have a name for it – karoshi (translated as “death by overwork”). Or read about how many junior bankers in main financial business centres regularly burn the midnight oil. The visible results speak for themselves.

If you recognize even a tiny part of yourself in the above, I am pleased to have caught your attention. 

While we love what we do to earn more than an honest living or chase that Chief XX Officer title, we often forget that sacrifices will have to be made. Trade-offs of some kind are on the table whether you like it or not. I guess that a majority of high-flying executives truly make wishes to Santa Claus whether the coming year can have 25 hours a day, 8 days a week as their present.

The proverbial bucket has to flow over one day when continue pouring in more and more.

My physical and mental health deteriorated, especially after 2015. All my medical charts were not looking as bright as I hoped for.  It affected my performance, my quality of life, and many relationships. Anxiety crawled in like a thief in the night. Depression kicked my butt big time because of my unhealthy lifestyle and persistence for business success. It was full throttle all the time, but the body is not designed to handle full throttle 24/7.

Instead of seeing my well-earned cash staying safe in the bank, it went increasingly fast into my medical bills, specialist visits, and finding alternative treatments to get back on track.

Contributing to the success of a company is something that drives us to be productive. Setting an example for your team builds towards a constructive path to the succession for everyone as we flow into the new normal. And with “new normal” – I do not refer to the COVID-19 situation – every change of environment, mindset, embracing new challenges is a new normal

Had I not opted to get properly coached, I would be further tumbling down the rabbit hole. Rest, respite, a moment of reflection, taking time for yourself, your family and friends are as much a state of productivity as crunching the latest budget numbers. With these decisive changes in my life, my productivity has gone up; I am healthy again and hit those deadlines with ease.

So, ask yourself. What keeps you going into a downward health spiral? What is stopping you not to make that slight change? Just one tiny thing can be enough.

I urge you strongly to reflect on this. When you recognize the above and know you may need some guidance, I am merely a click away for an informal chat.

If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken. \ Selena Gomez

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