A dear childhood friend of mine, and very popular kid in our neighborhood was cast for a popular TV sitcom as a newspaper delivery boy. Each week he collected the sum of $2.10 from subscribers. His signature line, “it’s two-ten for the week” earned him the nickname, “Twoten.”
We were young, dedicated athletes. I took basketball seriously and I had to train hard and take good care of myself. Twoten loved junk food and he could eat forever without gaining a pound and had the capacity to sustain high levels of performance. Looking back on it now, it’s evident we had different metabolisms and processed our caloric intake differently.
Similarly in the workplace, some are able to consume immoderate amounts from the menu of things to-do while others feel a cognitive and emotional imbalance from the same diet. Just like our biological metabolic system, we all process the consumption of expectations and requirements differently.
Do you know your work metabolism?
If you find yourself busy and active yet feeling chronically stuck, tired or overwhelmed and mentally saturated, it could be indicative of a slow work metabolism. Adding more activities and things to do will not necessarily be translated into energy, but create a physical, emotional, and mental overload.
On the other hand, if you feel exhilaration when engaging in new projects and challenges, and the more you take on the greater your energy and excitement, it could be indicative of having a high work metabolism.
One type of metabolism is not necessarily better than the other, and just like our biological metabolism, different eating habits, lifestyle and overall quality of life play a role in our metabolic rate.
In my executive coaching, I often see the mismatch of metabolisms at play. Executives that thrive on the edge of overload without awareness of the burnout it is causing on the team or the toll it takes in their families, keep going and going under the misguided compulsion that more is better, and all activity leads to progress. They can’t see the adverse impact because they feel recharged.
Is it possible to change our work metabolism?
Changing your work metabolism is possible yet it is a gradual process requiring constancy of purpose and consistency of action. The constancy of purpose will give us the aspirational target we want to achieve and the consistency of action, the discipline to create new habits as we move in the direction of our intention.
Perhaps you want to slow down a bit or accelerate your work metabolism. A candid reflection to assess our workload and discern when the volume or intensity of actions and initiatives are not healthy for us or for those around us, or how much we have on our plate is an important first step. Start slow making gradual changes in your “work caloric intake.”
Be mindful of the adjustments you are making and appreciate the small new habits that you are creating. Doing otherwise is detrimental to you and those around you and ultimately affect your quality of life.