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How workaholism may hinder your career development instead

While the wake of a robust work culture has led to a lot of positives including the emergence of a sincere work ethic, it certainly has had its own pitfalls like that of an obsessive workaholism. Workaholism, in recent years, has skyrocketed as a culture among the young people and the youth is leaving no stone unturned to show it off. Young and ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs are using every last bit of their energy to get better in their jobs, to grab that promotion, or to avail that opportunity.

And that’s a beautiful thing! Until it backfires.

How on earth can hard work ever backfire, you must be wondering? Well, that’s exactly what we shall be discussing in this blog post.

When I say your hard work and obsession may backfire, don’t get me wrong – all I mean over there is your obsession may, there are possibilities, sometime cause you to be short-sighted, or limit you from looking at the bigger picture. And that backfires – that exactly is what hinders your career trajectory.

Looking at the bigger picture is always a necessity, provided the rapidly changing economies we are living in and the terribly transient opportunities it’s offering us with. The world is transitioning every hour, at the fastest rate ever in the entire history of humankind, and so are the career possibilities and market realities. Every specific career choice that you can point your fingers at shall no longer be the same just after one year. And in such a fast-paced market, the only way to survival is think less about the immediate specific realities, and focus more on the bigger picture and futuristic probabilities.


And your obsession with your job or current career choice is hindering you from having this futuristic approach to your career trajectory. How, you ask? Here is how:

If you are obsessive and are having a toxic workaholism, chances are you are ignoring those shining opportunities just alongside – those excellent career prospects you could grab only if you plan to shift your career trajectory a little. Only if you agree to be a little more flexible. Only if you can devote a little more time for self-development and a little less obsession to your job. ‘Grass on the other side looks greener’, I agree, but that’s no reason to shift to the other side when the grass there is really greener.

Secondly, those overtime you’re putting in at your corporate office might mean that you are missing genuine networking opportunities outside. Networks matter, no matter who tells you otherwise. And having a set of trusted connections that includes people other than your boss and colleagues helps a lot!

Third, globalisation has one significant implication that is often overlooked – globalisation rewards profusely to career trajectories that have an interdisciplinary blend. Look around you and you’ll understand – every job or profession that’s in demand has some sort of inter-disciplinary element involved therein, be it a technology lawyer, a social entrepreneur, or a businessman who knows coding. And sticking to your current job in a single-minded manner means you miss an opportunity to go inter-disciplinary. In addition to these, there are a lot of other disadvantages to obsessive workaholism that you can easily deduce once you start paying attention.


So, the solution?

Embrace flexibility!

A flexible, open-ended career plan is the need of the information era. Embrace flexibility in your career plans and choices. Have back up plans and be prepared to navigate through uncertainties. Take risks while you’re still young and carefree. Work hard on yourself – develop the skills in demand so that you can be confident while switching jobs. Value soft skills and network over money and other hard assets. The latter still matter, but not more than the former; at least not in the formative years of your career. Work for a brand ‘You’. Build an identity for yourself beyond your job and profession. Make sure people will still recruit you and your skills will still be in demand even if the industry you’re currently employed in happens to crush down in the next decades. Meet people outside your industry, ask them for talks over coffee – explore possible inter-industry projects that you can undertake. Write for industries other than the one you’re currently working in, while relating the two via your writings – publish those writings before an audience you want to network with. And all the while, keep reconsidering and making necessary modifications to your career plan.

As the LinkedIn cofounder says in the book ‘Start up of You’, replace ‘Aim, Set, Fire’ with ‘Aim, Fire, Aim, Fire,…’!

All the best!

I wrote this post for Opportunity Desk, and it originally appeared here.

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