Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 11, 2021

WSJ: Burned Out? Maybe You Should Care Less About Your Job

Following up on my previous post, Thoughts on Law Prof Work-Life Imbalance From Those Left Behind (by Patricia Sun, the widow of American University Washington College of Law Professor Andy Taslitz, who died at the age of 57):

Wall Street Journal, Burned Out? Maybe You Should Care Less About Your Job:

Boundaries gone, meetings multiplying, many say work has taken over their lives during the pandemic. Here’s how to gain perspective and take back control.

When Jonathan Frostick realized he was having a heart attack in April—sitting at his desk on a Sunday, prepping for the workweek—he thought about his wife and his will.

He also thought: “I needed to meet with my manager tomorrow, this isn’t convenient,” prefacing the comment with an expletive.

The 45-year-old financial-services worker survived, and changed his life. The non-negotiables on his calendar now are thrice-weekly swims and dropping his youngest son off at nursery school. In his (fewer) hours on the job, he says he’s calm, decisive, above the fray. When he has too much on his plate, he leaves the work for another day. He insists on 30-minute meetings that stay on point.

“I’ve been stressed once since the heart attack,” he says. “It’s like this switch now. It doesn’t matter.”

But back then?

“I was my work,” he says.

We put in too many hours; we don’t take vacation; we can’t say no to that 6 a.m. conference call. Underneath it all is something bigger: an emotional attachment to our jobs that exhausts us and squeezes out the other parts of our identities. For years, we were told to find meaning and purpose at work, while other parts of modern life, like church, receded. Then came the pandemic.

Can we learn to care less? (Ideally, without having a brush with death?) What happens if we let go, just a little? ...

You might end up being better at your job. With less on your plate, and more perspective, every task will stop feeling like a fire drill and you can focus on what matters.

You do not want to end up like this tax lawyer.

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