I was robbed at gun point and went to work the next day.
I was stuck in a snowstorm in Minneapolis and missed Christmas with my family for work.
I worked 20-hour days for 6 months.
I missed the Season 2 finale of Insecure because I was on a plane for work…need I say more?
I was ambitious. I was dedicated. I was a damn fool. This is NOT how you earn credibility. This is NOT how you earn a promotion. This is NOT how life is supposed to work (pun accidentally intended.)
I know what you are thinking..”That must have been the job, or jobs, from hell!”. The funny thing is, most of these unfortunate circumstances I put on myself. As a corporate trainer, if one of my colleagues was sick and couldn’t facilitate a class in California, I raised my hand to take the 5-hour flight to the West Coast. As a Learning & Development Consultant, if a client didn’t provide everything I needed, I’d work around the clock to ensure I met the deadlines. As an Instructional Designer, I’d accept projects that were outside of my realm of expertise which caused undue stress and even longer hours. I told myself that these stretch assignments would pay off in the long run.
Well, I stretched myself too thin. Instead of being promoted, I ended up stressed, depressed and unemployed.
Here’s why going this hard will NOT earn you a promotion. I had to tell myself:
“Girl, go to bed!”
Working 20 hour days is not sustainable for any amount of time, let alone 6 months. Yes, this is even true for those of us with double and triple doses of #BlackGirlMagic. So yes, you will meet your deadlines but if the quality of your output is trash, what does that do to your reputation? Besides, when you work that hard and long you want something that you can be proud of. People begin to expect 3am emails from you and after awhile it becomes the norm. It isn’t looked at as going above and beyond. If you show up to a meeting to present, no one cares that you flew in on a red eye, that your toddler has an ear ache or that you had an anxiety attack in the bathroom minutes prior. In that moment, the quality of your presentation is what matters. You have to be very protective of your professional signature, your brand, your reputation. I had to learn to tell myself “Go to bed. No one is going to die if you don’t submit that report at midnight.” Honestly, no one is going to read it at midnight anyway, like sensible people, they are probably sleep…or, never mind. I finally stopped losing sleep (literally) over projects, deadlines and upcoming meetings. Instead, I took my ass to bed to protect my mental and physical health. Besides, under eye bags aren’t cute.
“If you can’t manage your existing workload, who do you think you are going to manage?”
For most of us, we can complete our workloads in 40-50 hours if we get off of social media. Consistently working 90 hour weeks sends a signal to your manager that you can’t handle your existing workload. That definitely doesn’t scream “Give this person even MORE responsibility including managing people!” It also shows that you don’t know when or how to delegate or raise your hand and say I need help. We are all moving at 1000 miles a minute, often others won’t see you struggling. You have to ask for help. When you ask, be specific. Don’t say “I can’t meet my deadlines” because you should have spoken up when they were assigned and it puts everyone in a bad space. Say “ I’ve taken all of the notes but it would help Bob could lead the meeting while I meet with a client to ensure that we meet our deadline on this project”.
“You about to blow up!”
You are a ticking time bomb. At some point you are going to suffer from burn out. You definitely don’t want that to happen while you are in a leadership or more visible position. It looks differently for everyone. It could be that you shut down, or lose interest in the things that you love, self medicate , become physically ill…etc. Don’t let it get there sis. Take care of yourself. I know that self care has become somewhat cliche but it’s so necessary. At the end of the day, not only will you NOT receive a promotion, you will probably be replaced by someone who takes care of themselves, knows when to delegate and manages their time wisely.
Take care (literally)