You have probably heard of, or perhaps even participated in, a health detox: a process where one rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. Most people would certainly eliminate a toxic substance in order to live a healthy life.
But what if the toxic element in your life is the very thing you need to do every day in order to actually survive—like your job? Enter the “work detox.”
Related: How to Take a Year Off
After 11 years of working and helping to build a public company, Jones Soda Co., I decided I needed to take a break. I was part of the legions of stressed out workers in this country on a bad workaholic cycle. There was a huge imbalance with my work and personal life. For me, the timing was good. There was liquidity for the shares in the company I had been a part of building, and I had achieved some work milestones and goals that I had set for myself at the beginning of my career.
I was also getting offers from other companies to take on even more increasing leadership roles. These opportunities were enticing, but I knew if I switched to another company, I would still be stuck in the same “work only” routine. I had to make a clean break.
I stopped working, and lived in and traveled around Europe for an extended period of time. I was able to evaluate my life and determine what changes I needed to make in order to live a healthy, balanced life. The biggest hurdle I overcame was learning to “be” rather than to “do” all the time. Doing is easy. Being with yourself can be extremely hard, but very valuable. You learn so much more from the experience of being.
A work detox will energize you personally and will help propel you forward professionally by allowing you to engage, grow and take stock. While a work detox is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it can range from completely stopping work, cutting back on hours or completely changing your career. Some things to consider for a work detox:
- Engage. Establish relationships or reconnect with people outside of work. (I returned from Europe with a husband and a daughter!)
- Grow and leave your comfort zone. Remove the layers of your work identity. Discover personal talents and pick up new skills. (I learned two new languages.)
- Take stock. Determine what you really want to do professionally. What are the deal breakers and makers? (I decided that next time out, I would invest my own money and control the whole program. Or I at least would be a leader with the ability to create a strategic plan and execute it with a great team that had the same core values as me.)
Related: 5 Signs You Need a Pause
Post work detox, I have a much better perspective at work and a successful balance between family and work. I am much more effective, as I do not let the little things get to me. I think this is largely due to the experiences I had living in foreign cultures and understanding different ways of living—vastly divergent than the culture I was accustomed to.
Again, not everyone can take an extended leave from work and move abroad. For someone who cannot leave his/her job, often just asking for some time off or a short sabbatical is completely within reason. It’s not such an outlandish request nowadays. A good employer will know the worth of giving a valuable employee a break if they are burnt out. The alternative would be losing that employee to another company.
Finally, to be happy and healthy both personally and professionally, always ensure you engage in work that you are passionate about, as your passion will help you to persevere and go the distance, and ultimately allow for more opportunities for success.
Taking a work detox is key to eliminating work-related stress, which may not only benefit your personal life and health; it might just be the key to unlocking your professional success. Remember to always take breaks, refresh, recharge, tweak the path and move forward again!