When I was a reporter, I thought I was The Seattle Times. Like, I was the whole newspaper. I wasn’t Nicole Tsong; I was Nicole Tsong, Seattle Times reporter.
Everything I did reflected on the newspaper, and vice versa. I had no distance between me and my job. I was so convinced I walked around with the name of the newspaper practically plastered on my forehead, I felt the weight of it, too. I was on eggshells, feeling like every step I took ran through the filter of my job.
I loved my job. It was an important one to me, to serve the greater public good as a reporter.
Walking around like this also made me crazy anxious. I talked about work all the time. When I wasn’t talking about work, I was thinking about it. I worried if I had made mistakes in stories, or if my editors liked the work I was doing. I had no distance from the newspaper, and when the newspaper started laying off reporters, my stress intensified to an unbearable degree.
Soon, I was contemplating leaving the paper. While I knew it was necessary, the thought of it was akin to cutting off an arm. Because in my mind, I was.
In other words, I had zero boundaries.
I didn’t understand this was more than caring about your job. This was me not putting any limits around my work. This was me collapsing my identity with what I did. This was me sacrificing everything in my life for my job, from dinner with friends, having time for yoga, or feeling guilty for taking time off.
You are not your job. Full stop.
Let’s put it another way. Do you feel constantly on edge about work? Do you check email right before bed to make sure your boss didn’t send you a last minute note? Do you feel overwhelmed by your job and like weekends are hardly a break before you’re back on duty again?
This is when boundaries step in. This goes beyond turning down a meeting and stopping people from double booking your calendar at work — though I am always gonna back you up on that one!
I’m talking about putting in clear boundaries between yourself and your job, learning to keep things and people that are too much at a healthy distance for you.
So that you can do the things that are important to you. Like take a walk. See your family. Hang out with your friends.
Work is one component of your life. It is not the only thing in your life that makes the wonderful human that you are. You, the human, are more than the work you do.
Are you ready to set some clear boundaries around your job to make time to focus on what’s important to you again? Join me on Tuesday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Be Luminous Yoga in Seattle. Learn the boundary shield protocol. Make sure you have time for you in the upcoming holiday season.