We used to think that endless leisure time and an abundance of material possessions signified status, but times have changed. According to a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research, Americans perceive busy people as having high status. Today people who are overworked and never take a vacation are viewed as having a higher standing. The authors explored this issue further and found that even those using certain products and services that busy people employ raises their perceived status. For example, using online shopping or grocery delivery companies to save time and cope with a busy lifestyle further elevated their standing. The authors concluded that people believe that busy individuals possess desirable traits and therefore are in greater demand with higher status. Ironically when they conducted the study in Italy they found the reverse to be true; Italians still view a life of leisure as representative of high status.
Some people work to live, while others live to work. Many of the clients in my practice identify themselves through their jobs not through their relationships. Work becomes the primary source of fulfillment and consumes an inordinate amount of time and energy. It becomes very easy to lose healthy work-life balance and become absorbed in one’s job, especially if you’re good at it and receive significant rewards for your efforts. Work is even more appealing when your relationship is unfulfilling and filled with conflict. Sometimes people spend an increasing amount of time at work in order to avoid their spouse or anticipated turmoil. Some would report that work is their safe haven, instead of their own home. Obviously their relationship is in pretty bad shape for them to prefer work over home.
If this applies to you, you need to ask “what is my primary motivation for working long hours?” Some people justify their work schedule because of financial obligations, others report that it’s the nature of the job, but maybe it has more to do with avoidance. Either way working all the time isn’t the best or healthiest choice. Consider delegating more and allowing others to help rather than assuming it has to be done by you. Work on disengaging from work by avoiding checking emails, texts, or phone calls when you are at home. Maybe you can give yourself only one hour to respond to work-related issues on a given day. Lastly, consider diversifying your lifestyle and engaging in activities that are totally unrelated to work. Join a gym, runners club, softball team, bowling league, cooking class, or any hobbies/sports that give you pleasure and fulfillment. People respect hard workers, but they also respect those that can balance their lives and maintain healthy relationships.