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Why does it all have to be such hard work?

You see, I read this article the other week.

It compared a (relaxed) European work style with an American (always on) style of working.

My first reaction? In my head (because, you know, no one will all of a sudden start listening to my ramblings, and most of the time that's just as well). Anyway, in my head I started defending the Europeans.

I said things like 'but we work very hard over here as well, you know!' and 'Do the Americans think we're all lazy bones?!'

Can you hear the indignant tone? The resentment at the idea that we all clock off around - say - mid May to no longer return until September?

Which is when I caught myself.

Because, yes, we work hard. Of course we do.

But is that something that we should pride ourselves on? Is that something that we need to defend? Even when no one is listening?

Are we attaching (too much) value to hard work? Are we attaching our status to being always on call, always available, always working? To always being busy?

Which made me think about all the reasons why we're working so hard. And they're not all good.

You see, yes, lots of you are Achievers. You want to have a sense of accomplishment. Not because you have to, but because that's how you're wired. You love nothing better than to cross something off your to do list. To go on to the next thing.

But what about if 'hard work' is because of:

Fear You're afraid you'll be found out as an Impostor. Any. Moment. Now.

Or you think that - if you work less hard - you'll get fired, you lose your house, your marriage, your kids no longer want to know you, you end up on the street, and, and ... (and yes, that's called catastrophising!)

Or you feel that you have to prove yourself. Over and over again. Because of the environment you're in. Because of a lack of trust where you work.

Culture You've been brought up with the idea that when you work hard the results will come.

You've been praised for your hard work.

The culture of your organisation is that of long hours (and bad planning?).


You've bought into the premise that working hard, to the detriment of your own body and wellbeing, is somehow a good thing. A sacrifice made. A status symbol. Work hard, play hard kind of thing.

What I'm trying to say is this.

I think we're all waking up to the fact that there are multiple ways to do our jobs. That there are ways that work for us, and ways that most certainly don't.

We know it.

But still, there is this little voice, deep down, that calls us 'lazy' if we no longer buy into this story that working has to be 'hard work'. Still the voice of a culture and environment that is deeply ingrained inside us. Still the voice that tells us that sacrificing our health and wellbeing for work is somehow a status symbol, or a price worth paying.

What I'm really saying is this.

Who you are is good enough.

Your experience, your willingness to do the best you can, is an asset, that shouldn't have to come to the detriment of your health and mental wellbeing. In fact, without those you CAN't do your best work.

You are good enough. As you are. That's all I'm saying.


Tineke Tammes is an ICF accredited Career Coach, who supports creative, multi-passionate, professional women in making successful career transitions! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

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