As I enter my final semester of college, I've seen at this point more than ever before how much young professionals are willing to give. All of my classmates are giving up the majority of their free time to pursue internships, attend networking events, and stay up until the early hours of the morning revising their resume or updating their portfolio.
That's all great stuff, and we should all set aside time to make sure our professional image is at it's best. However, we can't let fear, anxiety, and blurred boundaries let us go insane.
Virtually every other person I meet is a workaholic, and while that's great in some aspects, it's unhealthy in others. Having a strong work ethic is important, and making sure you're constantly producing quality work is essential to success, but so is knowing your personal boundaries.
I've met people who say they love when someone comes in for an interview and they describe how they'll do anything for a job and how they're a workaholic. While their drive may be inspiring, this is the first red flag of an unhealthy working lifestyle.
So, fellow young professionals, what kinds of boundaries can we set for ourselves, especially if we're used to the workaholic life?
Set a time to shut off all blue lights and be human again.
That's right, shut the laptop, turn off the cell phones, and decompress. Of course, there will be some days when you're up late working, but let this be the exception, not the norm. Make time to have dinner with your family and be social, as well as have time for yourself. You can't consider yourself a well-rounded person without these things, and people perform their best when they live a well-rounded lifestyle and are happy.
Take care of your body.
Your brain needs sleep in order to function. Yes, you heard me, you can't put out quality work when you're running on 20%. Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. While that may seem impossible some nights, remember that if you don't take care of your body, it will start to shut down, and then you'll really be out of commission. Unexpected sick days hurt a timeline much more than a planned pushback on a deadline of a day or two.
Keep the phrase "Work-Life Balance" at the front of your mind.
What does this mean to you? Does it mean coming home and having dinner with your family or roommates every night? Does this mean making sure you have time to invest in education to further your skills? Does this mean making time to get involved in activities aside from work such as sports, local interest groups or social groups? A key aspect of having work-life balance is, say it with me, a life. Make sure you have a life because these are supposed to be the best years of the only one you've got. Having success means nothing without people to share it with.
The first few years of jumping into a career are hard. We're all trying to figure out where we fit in this world, and sometimes we're so afraid of it that we sacrifice our entire selves for the chance of success. Remember that when you go to apply for a job, you're benefiting them. You're contributing to their greater goals. You're producing the work that makes them money. If you can't be you, then you can't be successful. Be yourself, be strong, and be balanced.