Achieving more through stress avoidance

In this piece, David Cliff ruminates on striking the right balance between acquiring luxuries and having the time to enjoy them.

Aspiration is a funny thing. In one sense, I can understand the desire to achieve as much as possible in one’s lifetime; to be as successful as one can be and, in an altruistically familial way, leave a legacy for one’s children. For this, countless people climb the corporate ladder, work every hour God sends and develop a burgeoning salary.

In another sense, and when you read account after account of executive stress and burnout, you have to ask yourself if it is at all worth it. Even when you consider that sense of leaving something for one’s offspring, the question has to be asked whether it is for anybody’s true good.

For one thing, a family worth supporting will surely be one that almost certainly would prefer to have their mother or father fitter and healthier for longer.

Also, if one works a 90-hour week, they may be able to afford a luxury property, a premium model car and a place in the country, but when would they get to enjoy it and what are the chances that they would be too tired to truly appreciate these trappings of wealth?

Perhaps the older generations should take a leaf from the book of the youngsters who adopt phrases such as YOLO – you only live once – and even have such slogans tattooed on their bodies to remind them forever more of that fact.

A recent major study showed that employees who work more than 55 hours a week are 33 per cent more likely to have a stroke than those who put in 35 to 40 hours.

Another piece of research showed that a jetset lifestyle can lead to serious physiological, psychological, emotional and social damage. Immune systems are affected, leading to increased risk of health problems including heart attacks.

So much for the glamour of jetting across the world, seeing country after country, drinking champagne and eating canapes in fine hotels.

However, in a capitalist society, many of these people are wealth and job creators, with many people’s welfare at stake if they drop a major ball and their company takes experiences rocky times.

So, a balance has to be met between responsibility to oneself, to employees and to family. Spreading responsibility across a wider group of individuals within an organisation seems a simplistic, yet effective way to get the same amount of work done, with less individual stress and more time to enjoy the rewards.

However, to achieve this, one must overcome that desire to take home a greater slice of the pie to, even though those more forward-thinking folk will understand that a larger pie is achievable by a group of well-balanced people than by one burned out individual.

We all hear and talk about work-life balance; it’s time that some people began to live it.

David Cliff is managing director of Gedanken.

Further reading on avoiding stress

David Cliff

Dannie Maggio

David Cliff is managing director of Gedanken and chairman of the Institute of Directors’ Northern Sector Group.

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