How to care about your work without burning out

If you’re like most people, you care about your work. But sometimes your work asks too much from you.

You might be tempted to take on more work, to work longer hours, and to move more quickly—because you care.

What to do when your work “needs you” more?

First, don’t try to show how much you care by spending more hours at the office or by always appearing busy. These are poor representations of how much you care and of how much you contribute. If your boss correlates these superficial things with how much you care, then, well, find a better boss.

Instead, focus on caring about your work’s mission. Whether that’s to help people manage their finances (if you work at a bank), to help your clients run their business more efficiently (if you’re a consultant), or baking damn good pizza.

Second, create the right conditions for you to be able to care consistently. You’ll have to be selfish, to a degree, to make this happen.

You could say, “I don’t mind working weekends, because my work serves a great cause”. But if you do that for long enough—One month? Three months? A year?—you’ll burn out and you won’t contribute anything anymore. It hurts everyone in the long run.

Better to work reasonable hours, to take plenty of breaks, to go on long vacations, and to say “no” more often.

To care about your work, focus on the mission, and pace yourself.

Yours,

— Peter

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