I know what you must be thinking “WHAT THE HELL”?” It’s OK, I don’t blame you. It sounds so contradictory, doesn’t it? How could caring less mean you will perform at your best? Caring less is irresponsible and someone who is responsible and an out performer at her job needs to care a lot, right?
Ok, well here’s the thing. I am not saying you shouldn’t do your best. In fact, being excellent at my job was always one of my top priorities. But what I am saying is that if you care too much and take your job too seriously this might lead to frustration and an array of other negative emotions, which ultimately won’t increase your productivity.
A few years ago, I was at the stage where I cared too much and I wanted to control everything, even the things that were way outside of my control!
This definitely didn’t help me as I was often left frustrated with situations that I couldn’t change or influence. So, instead of letting go and focusing on things I could influence, I would repeat the unchangeable situations over and over in my head. It seems I was not alone in doing this. In fact, this behavioral pattern is pretty common, especially amongst women, hence I decided to write about it.
So, why do we care too much?
Often, when we are passionate and excited about our work, we want to do everything perfectly. And let’s face it, for some people, perfectionism is kind of an obsession. But as outlined above, it can also be a source of immense frustration.
So, how do you know when you care too much?
- Do you have this constant feeling of putting 200% effort in in order to do a great job but you are not rewarded for doing so?
- Do you spend hours and hours polishing emails that are not even that important?
- Do you spend ages working and preparing presentations and when it is finally time for you to present them, you don’t feel ready and you fear you will get questions that you won’t be able to answer?
- Is your work and everything you need to take care of that daythe first thing you think about when you wake up?
- Do you generally feel very frustrated with the current situation at your place of work and do you have the feeling that you cannot change anything despite the fact you work more than 12hrs a day?
If the answer is yes to most of these questions, then it means you care too much. There are two things to note about caring too much. The first one is if you care too much you are a very loyal and conscientious employee and the company should be very happy to have you.
However, this leads me onto point two which is because you care so much, you are killing your productivity and creativity because you are stressing out too much about minor things. What you should be doing is to remind yourself that you are not here on this planet to be in a state of constant stress and you should be seeing the bigger picture.
The biggest challenge I have, and I think many women have, is to accept the fact that if you care less it doesn’t mean you are an irresponsible person, it just means you are a smarter one and consequently will be a happier one. Once you feel happier you will see your productivity increase as you will start to focus on things that matter and that you can change.
In other words, control what you can control and let go of what you can’t! !
Imagine you have a situation at work where your colleagues are being incompetent and making less than perfect decisions. One option in this case is to speak to your colleagues, express your opinion. But what if they ignore you? It doesn’t matter. What they do with this information is UP TO THEM.
If they do not agree with you, so what? Stop overthinking things in your head and stop expecting perfectionism. Sometimes people won’t agree with you so instead of caring about other people’s opinion you should take care of your own business and be the best you can be. Your value comes from how you see yourself, not how others see you. There is more to life than colleagues disagreeing with you at work.
You need to make a decision. Are you going to continue caring too much about things you cannot change or are you going to invest this time productively into something that makes you happy?
If work is the only thing in your life at the moment and it is all about work, work work, I can tell you I have been there and it is not healthy! Life is all about balance.
The work you do is not your identity. There is more in this life than the work you do. Make time to spend with your family and friends and most importantly find some hobbies that make you happy.
For me personally, it was my mentor who opened my eyes. I was complaining a lot to her about many things related to my work when suddenly she told me: YOU ARE TAKING YOUR WORK TOO SERIOUSLY, YOU CARE TOO MUCH. YOU NEED TO CARE LESS AND start ENJOYING THINGS. HAVE MORE FUN AT WORK AND IN LIFE. WHEN YOU DO THIS, YOU WILL SEE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVE.
As much as I hated it I also needed to admit she was right.
And let me be clear, it didn’t happen overnight!
I went through many different steps in order to learn not to care so much.
- The first step, which was arguably the most important, was to determine my value,
- the second was to know who I am (outside of my work),
- the third one was to start doing things which make me happy and to set up healthy boundaries in my life. Until you do these things, you will not be able to see your own value nor respect yourself and the value of your time. And if that’s the case,no one else will see it or respect it either
Another really crucial step that helped me start caring less and be more productive and happier was looking at my “daily intention”. You can read more about that topic here.
So, remember, care less and you will stress less which means you will deliver your best.