Once upon a time I was addicted to my job. I stopped doing anything else. I worked before work and after work. I went back to the office late at night.
I reasoned that it was an investment in my future because I planned to be with the company for a long time. I would power through the tough stretch, feel the satisfaction of productivity and accomplishment, and get a raise. Besides, I loved my job.
I believe that if you want to work less at some point in your future, it makes sense to work more in your present (see Bullish: Maybe Work-Life Balance Means You Should Work MORE). This is true in the short term (if you’re taking off two weeks in June you’ll work more in May to prepare) and long term (if you want to work less while raising young children, you can work more now to write your book, establish a blog following, or learn new skills before you have an infant living with you).
Working more now means not only quantity but quality – the kind of work you’re doing. As Jen Dziura wrote in Bullish: What’s Your Business Model? (If You Think You Don’t Have One, You Probably Just Have a Bad One):
If your business model is working 40+ hours a week for a salary — something that you suspect may not be compatible with the way in which you want to raise children or write books or live your life — then I don’t blame you for not leaning into that.
This is exactly what I was doing. I was leaning into my job, but not in a way that was benefitting me or reflecting how I want my life to be. I was working more, but I wasn’t working smart. I wasn’t innovating in the company, I wasn’t developing other sources of income, I wasn’t expanding my professional network, I wasn’t teaching myself new skills.
Work for yourself, by challenging yourself, keeping your edge, and developing skills and products that you can showcase no matter where or how you work. If you’re devoting not eight but twelve hours a day to one job, those may be hours you’re not working smart for your future self (See Bullish Q&A: I Like My Job – Do I Really Need a Side Gig?).
I was wrong about my career in that company. A few months after I became obsessed, I resigned from my position. (Life will always surprise you.) I worked hard there, I loved it, and I learned a lot. However, I wasn’t always working smart.
Work hard, work more, but work smart.