A Reforming Workaholic

Workaholic!

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I was a workaholic for many years. I wasn’t an ambitious, climb-the-corporate-ladder type. I was just an extremely loyal worker bee slaving my butt off to do the most perfect job I possibly could.

Unpaid overtime was the norm, as was working late at night and on weekends. My days flew by in a haze as I worked harder and for longer. Before I knew it, it was years later. I was older, still unmarried and childless.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. Actually it was more like very rude awakening that shook me to the core and broke my heart.

It took a mere three minutes to make all those years feel pointless, all those minutes of my life wasted, important childbearing years lost.

But I learnt three big lessons in the ensuing days and months of healing. Firstly, I had to learn to start looking after myself. If I didn’t make myself a priority, no one else would.

Secondly, I had to take responsibility for my decisions. This included the eye-opening realisation that I was also responsible for those decisions I didn’t make; the ones where I allowed circumstances to dictate my fate, the ones which relegated me to the status of “passenger” with someone else as captain of my ship.

And thirdly, I had to learn to let go, to give up what felt like “my baby”. I had adopted it when no one else cared. I had pored myself into nurturing it. Now I had to mourn its loss, and mourn I did.

Almost six years have passed and my life has changed dramatically. I’ve learnt about perspective. I’ve learnt about priorities. I got married and just scraped in at the end of those child bearing years to have my beautiful miracle babies.

But I’m still a loyal worker bee at heart and I find myself daily having to learn to let go; to let go of something that was never really “my baby” to start with. Even though it pricks my heart, I can now see that it’s for the best. I can now see the positives. I can now make it work for me. I have a new perspective. I have higher priorities. I am a reforming workaholic.

Has a life defining event has moulded your life in an unexpected way?

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Related Posts

Work in Progress ā€“ Pun Intended

Cognitive Dissonance Four Weeks On

Out of My Comfort Zone

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Linking with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.

Linking with With Some Grace for FlogYoBlogFriday (FYBF).

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30 thoughts on “A Reforming Workaholic

  1. Such great lessons you learned along the way, Veronica. Worker bees are prized for their loyalty – a great quality but often misplaced. But no regrets, V – I’m sure it has all shaped you for who you are, and you are AMAZING. What a blessing your miracle babies are! xx

    • Hard lessons, Deb, but very pivotal for me. I try not to regret the lost time because it led to my turning point, but it is sometimes hard not to wish I’d learnt the lessons so much earlier. I’m not sure I’m really amazing but I’ll take the compliment in any case! šŸ™‚

    • Perspective plays a huge role. I think that perspective comes from greater awareness, of self and surrounds. It’s about stopping to take stock rather than going in circles on the merry-go-round. It’s all still a work in progress for me, but I am definitely self-aware now so able to do something about it all.

  2. My life defining moment was when I found out I was pregnant at nineteen. I realised I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and that my life was being wasted. That was a huge turning point for me, but it’s also been a slow road back.
    It’s hard when you’re naturally inclined to give your best, becuer everything else feels slack and like not enough. I guess it’s just trying to change your focus on where your best is ‘best’ directed at.
    You will get there I’m sure. You are so wonderfully self aware. Xx

    • Jess, I can’t imagine being pregnant at 19 and because of that, I can totally imagine how life changing that moment would have been. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how it’s the life in our days not days in our lives that count. I know there is a saying along those lines. These type of quotes float a lot in my head till they start sinking in. Making every moment count. Where any of us is right now “is what it is”. I don’t want to waste time regretting or mourning anymore. Still a work in progress……

  3. It’s so hard to let go of some of that stuff. I know that for me heaps of my self esteem and identity were linked to my work pre-motherhood. I prided myself on being good at my job and worked hard. Who was I trying to impress? Did it get me massive rewards. Not really only kudos.
    Anyway, I am finding the rightful place for work in my life too. And letting go of being a people pleaser. And being enough. xx

    • I didn’t think about those points you raised, Lee – self-esteem and identity – but they probably played a role in why I worked so hard too. I wasn’t obviously conscious of it but they probably underpinned some of how I did, and probably still do, things. We are all complex beings! But the lessons I articulated in the post were very strong points ingrained in me through those experiences. I’ve not arrived though. Much more to learn and evolve even after all these years!

  4. It’s a blessing you got your epiphany when you did. Some people realize a little too late, while others never find out. I don’t think I had any life-defining moments… Maybe life-defining people that helped changed my life and guide my thoughts and actions to a better place šŸ™‚

    Thanks for coming over my blog tt day and leaving your words. It brightened up my Monday šŸ™‚

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • I know, Ai. I am so very glad it wasn’t too late for me especially in relation to having my family. I do wish I could reclaim some years but there’s no point wasting time regretting that either. As long as we are always learning and evolving and living a rich and fulfilling life, that is what matters most. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

  5. Ohh I can definitely relate to this, except when I fell into the trap of being a workaholic, I already had two children. Two kids who definitely suffered. I was too close to see it. I thought I was providing for them, and being a role model … I was taken advantage of, I covered other peoples deficiencies, my health suffered, my kids suffered, my relationship suffered, it was total crap and I’m never doing it again.

    • You know what the great thing is about your story, Bella? You’ve woken up to it! I hope you are living a new lifestyle you are really happy and fulfilled with. No looking back!

  6. But does that mean having children is the only fulfilling thing in life, and any time not spent striving towards having them is wasted? Absolutely agree that being a workaholic is usually not healthy, and making deliberate decisions with the intent of living purposefully is essential.

    But you make it sound like time and effort spent on a career and working are “pointless” if you don’t end up married and with children at the end, as though those are the only things that can make a person feel fulfilled. Relationships and children are important, but so are friendships, family relationships and working in jobs (paid or unpaid) that make you feel like you are achieving good things. That’s the crucial aspect – Is what you are spending most of your time on the thing that makes you feel fulfilled? Different things will give you this feeling at different times of your life.

    • In answer to your question, Erin, not at all! I wrote very much from my perspective. I’ve never had a “be-all-end-all” goal to just get married and have kids. In fact, it took me till 35 and 40 to start each respectively. I still have many other things, aside from being the best mother and wife I can be, that I need and want to do for my own personal sense of fulfillment eg: photography, life-long learning, to name a couple. I just needed that wake up call for myself to realise I was in a downward spiral at the time. I had to learn I was really indispensable in that job role. I know that sounds harsh but it really has turned out to be a lesson for me to have and live a richer, or as you say, fulfilled life. And I’m still defining all the facets of what that means, both at work and outside. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

  7. My moment was when after my waters broke at work, my boss and colleagues left me to lock up because I was waiting for my hubby to come and get me and take me to the hospital. I knew I never wanted to work for anyone but myself, ever again.

    • Oh, Laney, I cannot imagine being put in that situation. Callous is all I can say. I cannot even fathom the logic. I’m glad you are in a much happier place now though and having such an impact on so many lives.

  8. Well, I think you know all about my jaunts in the corporate world and how my heart was broken from many years of working like a slave (I was one of those crazies who wanted to climb the corporate ladder).
    I still believe that all these things that happen are a blessing in disguise.

  9. Hmm, food for thought. I stress a lot about work and how to “do it all” with the work/life/balance (how I hate that saying!). It sounds like you had quite an epiphany!
    Hmmm, what life changing moment have I had… the most recent one was a JUST DO IT moment about rejoining the blogosphere. And here I am šŸ™‚

    • I do stress about the balance at times but work is no longer on the pedestal it once was when it took over everything. I’ve had to rearrange priorities to ensure family life is first. I haven’t got a mix of priorities I’m totally happy with yet (I wish I could blog more, for example) but work is definitely not going to be taking over again. Glad to see you rejoined the blogosphere and our paths have crossed. I hope it’s turning out how you’ve hoped this time around.

  10. Wow, a powerful post Veronica. I can definitely relate as I too am a workaholic, although since after I had kids. I guess my life-defining event was my divorce, as a consequence I was forced into the position of main income earner for my family.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Lisa. Given your situation, you didn’t have a lot of choice with your life defining moment. Someone had to earn the income! Since posting, reading and replying to comments, the idea of having a choice or having to make the best of what a situation is, finding the silver lining, is something that’s been tossing about in my head. Sometimes I feel it’s about making the best of what we have and making it work in a way that results in the most happiness and fulfilment, even if it’s not always an ideal situation.

  11. I’m still slowly reforming too, Veronica. I’ve never lived a corporate life, but as a perfectionist I’ve definitely given more of myself than was necessary to get the job done. It would be nice if the loyalty was acknowledged in some way, but it often isn’t.

    • You’re right, Jayne, it isn’t often acknowledged. I’ve never consciously done things just to be acknowledged but it’s always nice to get it nonetheless at least some of the time. I’m learning to do things that work for me as much as anyone else. I’ve got a strong work ethic, though not always a smart approach, so I know focusing more on me doesn’t mean I’ll do a poor job. I am learning rather to accept “good enough” instead than pushing for “perfect”. I think all perfectionists eventually realise that perfect is a myth. It’s an important lesson for me to learn about perspective because I want to be sure I model a healthier, more balanced way forward for my girls.

  12. Hi there I am a work in progress. I hate to admit it, but I have had quite a few defining moments, but somehow I always let complacency lure me back into a false sense of security. Yesterday was another moment, my babies interview for school. As I sat there waiting to meet with the principal I realise may oldest baby is 11 and my youngest is now 5 – and that time has just whizzed by in a haze of work and life. I need to slow it all down, I NEED to inhale as much of the younger years of my boys as I possibly can, and I cannot and will not allow work to take another minute longer of my time than it deserves. xx

    • Sonia, I think it is a good thing to be a work in progress, as long as there is progress. I am often thinking the same thing about my girls. They are only 3 and 14 months, but they are *already* 3 and 14 months. I don’t spend enough time with them because they I am working and they are in childcare. I had a moment on Monday (one of many I have about this issue) wondering if I am imprinting enough of us and our family values into them or if childcare is doing a more significant job. I recalled a post from Aspiring Mum about being a “Memory Maker” and realise I want to be sure they remember their childhood with us as much as with childcare or friends or anything else. I’m still working all that out too. Having to work, maybe I can set a good example of learning how to show them balance and making quality time together? One thing I am 100 percent sure of is they are more important than work. Work will never be on that pedestal again!

  13. I hear you here. I was, and am, a worker bee. I, too, worked long unpaid hours. Weekends, late nights. Sometimes it paid off. But then it didn’t, and it was a shocker. I realized like you that no one else is looking out for me but myself so I needed to start putting myself first. Even my health was at risk with the stress. No more, thank goodness!

    • I sometimes wonder why it took me so long to see what a downward spiral I was in. But I guess that doesn’t matter anymore. The most important thing is I realised it and have changed. I am sure it affected my health too, and ability to fall pregnant, if not due to stress, just due to the years I waited well into my 30s before even trying. I’m still at the same job but no more working that way. I think my next challenge will eventually be to see where I head to next. A bit of a scary prospect after being there so very many years!

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