January 23, 2024

Can we adopt a more sustainable way of working?

Can we find a way to have a successful professional career and a fulfilled personal life? Can we accept that both are needed to live a happy life?

Can a generation raised to believe that eighty-hour workweeks are necessary for success regain the lost balance between work and life? Can we unlearn the habits and routines that drove us into burnout? Can we find a more sustainable way to work? Can we find a way to have a successful professional career and a fulfilled personal life? Can we accept that both are needed to live a happy life?

In a world where rest and play have become enemies of work, we live a life that consumes us little by little. Always waiting for the evening, for the weekend or for that holiday to rest. Never allowing ourselves to do things just for fun. Constantly absorbed by the busyness of life.

But what if we changed the script. What if we looked to add rest and play into our lives. If playing with your kids wouldn’t be a “should”, if going on a walk wouldn’t be a “must”, if cooking dinner would be a “shall”?

We’re expected to be working for about 40 years in our lifetimes (at least). How can we continue the way we’re working, the way we’re living, burning all the resources we’re having, all our energy, our health, our relationships, our passions? It’s not sustainable. The basic concept of sustainability revolves around the idea that we shouldn’t use all of today’s resources to the extent that tomorrow we won’t be able to use them. Now, the way we’re working has become unsustainable.

The good news is that we can make our work sustainable once more. We have the knowledge and the tools to improve how we manage ourselves and our environment, to create  sustainable work.

I am no person to shy away from work - in fact I have been called a workaholic, a perfectionist, too ambitious, but while I was putting in the hard work, what nobody saw was what I did to manage myself: the books I read, the many “play moments” I have throughout the week, the almost daily exercise routine, the nutrition, the water, the love. It is wrong to look at a person's success and judge success purely on the output. Because what enables a great output, what enables the stamina, the determination, the constancy, the burning passion, is the input.

Sustaining success takes determination to create the environments, the routines, and the opportunities. If we want our work to be more sustainable, we have to look at the inputs. What do we do in those “non-working moments”? Do we take in “gold” or do we take in “garbage”?

Work is a big part of who we are - if only for the large amount of hours, work will always play a crucial role in our life. And that doesn’t have to be bad. Because work also gives us meaning, moments of extreme pride, it allows us to grow professionally and personally, to find our partner, or our best friends, our tribe, new passions and so much more. But when work takes away all our energy, all our fire, we start to feel resentment, frustration, anxiety, depression even.

However, when we work to improve ourselves and our workplaces, work can once more become sustainable.

Sustainable work triggers a virtuous circle in which a great workplace environment allows for a great life outside working hours, and the life we live in turn fuels our productivity, creativity, and innovation in the workplace.

We can live, both to work and to enjoy life!

Written by Andreea Pap

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