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Can You be Too Successful?

Last weekend the Old Man and I were at The Passage to India. It’s our favourite Indian restaurant in Stony Stratford and we are well known there. The food is good, the waiting staff are generally well organised and pleasant and it’s a good evening out. But the last time we were there it was mayhem. It more closely resembled Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour than our slightly sleepy little country town.

I have no idea what prompted the rush. The staff tried so hard. They were pleasant and worked pretty efficiently on the whole, but too many customers put too much pressure on the business. As regulars they looked after us fairly well in the circumstances, but our food order was slightly wrong (the poor Old Man was left gasping for water after he had eaten his meal which contained several shades more chilli that he’s used to),one of the samosas was cold in the middle and the ambience was anything but calm.

All business owners are always out chasing sales. But if you’re not prepared to handle those sales it can all go horribly wrong. Service may suffer (in some cases you may not be able to service the sales at all and then the customer goes elsewhere),costs may spiral and/ or your health may suffer. If you’re not prepared for success, too much of it can undermine your business.

Is success good for you? Well, there’s a question. Most people are looking for success of some sort, whether that is success in life or success in living. The two are very different and will mean different things to each individual you ask. There are some who succeed in life and living; some will succeed in one or the other and many will do neither. Success in living is generally seen as getting the most out of life during one’s lifetime and it is hard to overdo this success. It is often measured on one’s happiness and the fond memories they have of their lifetime. Success in life however seems to be measured on the achievements of one’s working life, usually in terms of money or fame. Success in life can often go too far and sometimes ends badly. There are many examples of success gone badly wrong. Typically those we hear of most are the extreme cases when fame and success gets too much for celebrities and they end up taking their own life, directly or indirectly – Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith. The list could go on a lot longer.

Many businesses are looking to make all the money they can and in the current economic climate that can be a real challenge. If your business is thriving and you’re making an excellent profit, that’s great. Make sure that you don’t allow the pursuit of success to become your life. Here are some signs that success (or the pursuit of success) is becoming too much.

Family time? What family time?

Just because you only spend eight hours a day in the office doesn’t mean that you only spend eight hours a day at work. What about the time spent replying to those few late emails and those who call needing to ask a quick question as you try to eat your breakfast? What about getting up at 5.30am to tackle the stuff you were just too tired to do yesterday? This is all work time and often leaves very little time left for everything else. My dear Old Man and I have now agreed after some negotiation that I can work 5.5 days a week, but Saturday lunchtime (lunch is very late some Saturdays!) to Sunday night inclusive is family time. It’s not always easy but we’ve stuck to it and it does give us uninterrupted personal time. It’s important to invest in your home relationships or they won’t be there when you need them.

Work hard and play hard.

Many will say they enjoy their job which is why they spend so much time there and that playing with the new office gadget when you get home is not work. Almost everyone these days has some sort of smart phone, if not two; one business and one personal. Phones along with the work laptop and the tablet often means that most the day is spent staring at one screen or another, even when you’re eating. It is important to have some time away from anything work related, take up a hobby that has nothing to do with your job, put the office gadgets to one side and learn to relax. Have a conversation with someone in person rather than digitally and think about something other than work.

What’s time off?!

If you feel you spend most your life in the work place doing everything there but sleep, then something is out of kilter. Take some time off, find a last minute deal and take some time off well away from the workplace. Hospitals and graveyards are full of indispensable people. You’re a human not a robot and you need downtime. You’ll also find that if you take a break and think about something else you’ll not only feel fresher and more energetic you’ll be much more productive.

Stress and anxiety

Stress takes years off your life. Starting work at sun rise and still answering emails at 10pm is extreme and will have adverse effects in the long run. If bringing in the money means cutting ten years off your life, learn to live off less.

Friends – you mean that American sitcom?

If you only have relationships with those you see at work then something may be wrong. Find yourself a social life and develop friendships outside the work environment. Your real friends in life will be honest with you. If they think you are spending too much time working they will say so.

Having a successful company and being able to reap the rewards is one thing but life is about so much more than work and material success. It can take time to reduce the “to do” list to something manageable, but there are multiple good reasons for doing so and it’s worth getting your life back.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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