Exhaustion: Not a Proxy for Effort or a Status Symbol
We have a serious problem on our hands.
This happens incessantly around me, particularly amongst New Yorkers, and I am certainly guilty of falling into the trap sometimes. But the more I ruminate about why we do it, the further I am actively distancing myself from this.
We love to play the victim. Millennials especially love to use exhaustion and 4 hours of sleep as a badge of honor of how hard they're working, or "busy-ness" as an excuse for not pursuing interests/hobbies of theirs or spending more quality time with the important people in their lives. It's disappointing. We can do better.
One of my clients and I were talking about how both of our lives are particularly hectic at the moment. When I told her how my days start at 5:15am most days of the week, she remarked how impressive it was that I manage the schedule and workload that I do. Like I said in my Instagram post here, I wanted to go a training conference on my birthday last year and I choose to work 6 days a week for most of the year- but on the other hand, I used to feel guilty about the fact that I used to have most middays on Monday free and could go to lunch and do laundry while everyone else was hard at work.
This is where things get dangerous.
Sometimes it's a good thing to let other hard-working people motivate you into feeling inspired to hustle harder- everyone could use a good kick in the butt from time to time. But using another person as a barometer for your efforts or as a model is precarious. Because that's when we get into this sticky situation:
1. Exhaustion is not a proxy for effort.
In fact, you're doing less when you're doing "more"
We have now built a work-life culture that rewards more hours clocked in and the sacrifice of personal life. We say things like, "That manager is so dedicated- he works 90 hours a week and barely gets time to see his family." I see this as extremely saddening and unfortunate-- not admirable in the least.
In the past year, I've made a concerted effort to be whole, wherever I am and whatever I'm doing. This means putting my phone away when I'm with friends and family, focusing on accomplishing one task at a time while I'm working rather than multitasking, and setting boundaries for myself. I'm not always perfect and sometimes I fail, but this has allowed me to be 100% present in what I'm doing and can give more of myself to whatever task at hand.
2. Exhaustion is NOT a status symbol.
By the way, this is JUST like people who brag about being sore after their workouts, as a measure of how "kickass" they are. 1- it's not accurate, and 2- who are you trying to impress with that? You're not.
Running on 4-6 hours of sleep consistently per night impresses no one. The only thing you're accomplishing is losing your mental and physical health, one night at a time.
I have to wonder how many health problems that everyone in our country is experiencing could be resolved with a consistently healthy amount of sleep. People underestimate the grave side effects of undersleeping. Whenever a client of mine is experiencing any random physical issues, the first question I ask is how much sleep they're getting. Not losing weight, extended muscle soreness/underrecovery, out of control hunger, dizziness, nausea, energy, the list goes on. Here's a little infographic on the side effects of not sleeping.
What do you think about this epidemic of "busy-bragging?" Do you find yourself guilty of participating and how do you combat that?