Out of the Hamster Wheel
eBook - ePub

Out of the Hamster Wheel

Renounce the constant stress, organise everyday work in a relaxed manner, set priorities & make the right decisions, change your life with time management

Simone Janson, Simone Janson, Simone Janson

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eBook - ePub

Out of the Hamster Wheel

Renounce the constant stress, organise everyday work in a relaxed manner, set priorities & make the right decisions, change your life with time management

Simone Janson, Simone Janson, Simone Janson

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Workaholism and workaholism: No gain for companies
// By Simone Janson

Workaholism, to German addiction, is widespread in our society. The problem is that this drug enjoys the highest social recognition. But unlike many bosses, these workhorses are not profitable for businesses.

Why do so many people cling to work addiction?

The main reason why, despite many obvious disadvantages, so many people hold on to their job addiction as they do to a loved item of clothing is its social standing.
Most perfectionist behaviors are positively documented in modern everyday work. Traits such as ambition, ambition, fighting spirit, sense of order or organizational skills are considered excellent qualities for a career. Because without hard work you can't achieve a price, right? Above all, these people give the impression of being particularly productive and thus appear to be the ideal performers. After all, whoever gives 200 percent must be successful - right? So are perfectionists the born success people who are guaranteed a place on the management level of the company?

Work addiction - the tolerated addiction?

While addictions such as hard drugs or alcohol are ostracized by society, work addiction, so-called workaholism, is of high social standing, is considered normal and is often even wanted by companies. That is why it is so difficult to admit that the corresponding behavior patterns are harmful and to change something about them.
Appearance is deceptive, because perfectionism not only has advantages, but also a number of disadvantages that can become a problem in everyday working life. Aspiration can be positive, but it doesn't help you to stick to high expectations or to cling to unsolvable problems. The sense of order is also commendable; However, if you waste your time working with pedantry and are too concerned with details instead of having an eye on the overall result, you will never get the results that your superiors expect from you.

Hamster wheel instead of career ladder

Numerous studies from occupational psychology clearly demonstrate: Contrary to the assumption of many people, perfectionism is often not the basis for excellent professional results and outstanding careers.
Perfectionists are often busier than calmer natures and can therefore be very successful for a certain period of time. Because such people also inspire themselves in stressful situations. With the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are released in the adrenal cortex, these stress junkies whip themselves to peak performance. In this way, they are extremely successful in devoting themselves to important tasks - at least for a short time. But what happens then?

How does stress arise?

The typical stress reaction is a remnant from the Stone Age, when we humans had to choose between escape and fight in sudden dangerous situations. The body not only releases stress hormones, it also speeds up breathing, improves blood flow to certain muscles and releases additional energy from the sugar stores in the liver. The problem is, however, that in order to become efficient through this reaction, our organism simultaneously shuts down all other processes that it does not need at the moment - such as appetite, digestion, the body's defenses, communication skills. In the cerebrum, the seat of consciousness, the release of the "happiness hormone" serotonin is increased, in the midbrain and stem brain, which is responsible for the unconscious regulation of breathing and blood pressure, is reduced. This redistribution increases the willingness for a quicker but thoughtless reaction. Aggression and impulsiveness are also increased.
The Stone Age stress program, which was previously absolutely necessary for survival, is not necessarily helpful in modern everyday work. Because today, if you want to be successful, you are less dependent on your physical strength than on your communication skills and your ability to make long-term strategic decisions. Perfectionists, who are naturally more susceptible to external stressors and who constantly put pressure on themselves with their high demands, curtail these important success factors themselves: Those who are constantly stressed make mistakes more often.

Stress is a hindrance for complex tasks

Especially when it comes to tasks that require complex judgments and accuracy, the perfectionist hectic people quickly fall behind because they find it difficult to concentrate. And not infrequently, they have to use the time saved afterwards to iron out mistakes that would not have occurred with some quiet thinking. So the supposed productivity advantage is really none at all.
In addition, perfectionists tend to hinder productivity in work groups and team projects in many cases. They often know neither their own limits nor those of others. On the contrary, because they believe that they can work continuously, they try to impose this rhythm on others. Since many perfectionists also act in the consciousness that they are the measure of all things in terms of zeal for work, specialist knowledge and organizational skills, they basically also want to set the tone. At the same time, they strongly distrust their colleagues or employees and generally want to control even the smallest of work steps themselves. Although perfectionists can excellently drive other employees and thus "motivate" them to perform better in the short term, their hostile behavior will sooner or later destroy the motivation of every team - and thus its efficiency.

Workaholics - no gain for the company

Research shows that perfectionist workaholics can bring a company short-term profit, but in the long-term it is eaten up by the many times higher financial damage caused by mistakes, employee turnover and inefficient work.
For these reasons, perfectionists are anything but ideal superiors. Because they often lack the foresight for long-term strategic decisions and their management style is more likely to sow fear and dissatisfaction among their employees instead of motivating them. Therefore, as a rule, they are far from having the successful careers that one could expect from their ambition and busyness. Studies by various occupational psychologists show that typical perfectionists can be found primarily in the middle management positions of companies. Surprisingly, in the top management, you meet mainly the more relaxed natures. Relaxation is also an important success factor.

When are we really productive?

In fact, a high willingness to perform is fundamentally not wrong - provided the service is performed voluntarily and with pleasure. In this context, behavioral biologist Felix von Cube speaks of flow, the lust for curiosity.
Curiosity motivates us to go ahead, solve problems and face new challenges. Here we experience Eustress (from Greek Eu = good), which is also stressful for the body, but is important to master new and difficult tasks. Because when we solve a problem or master a job satisfactorily under time pressure, it makes sense that we put a little pressure on ourselves to achieve maximum performance.

Why are we stressed at all?

When we are stressed out, it is usually to solve a problem or achieve something - for example recognition, social ties or security. And when we solve the problem or fulfill our wish, we experience joy - just flow.
For example, when the boss assigns us an important task, we immediately begin to think about how we will proceed and our organism prepares to perform at its best to deal with the situation. Recent brain research results even show that stress promotes faster networking of brain cells. So every time we solve a problem under stress, we learn a thinking pattern relatively quickly, which we can recall in future in similar situations. So stress increases our flexibility.
The euphoria that we feel when we have completed a stressful job satisfactorily is thanks in part to the hormones noradrenaline and serotonin. These evoke positive feelings that act as a reward for the previous effort. If the eustress occurs regularly and in doses, it stimulates the immune system and has a motivating effect. It is important, however, that we experience the situation as a challenge that we are happy to face; the task that our boss gives us should neither under or overwhelm us. The right mix between flow and routine is important!

Recognition is important!

Recognition is important so that we feel motivated for a task and do not feel under or overwhelmed. This is exactly the problem in many German companies, as several studies show. There is apparently too little praise and workers feel demotivated by the lack of recognition. However, those who experience insufficient recognition in the long term when solving a problem quickly experience a healthy challenge as pressure.
Most people feel challenged when work is monotonous and too routine. But even if a certain amount of routine is important in our life: Without changes, we simply become bored. We do our job well and much faster if we have already done the task a hundred times because our brain has got used to this behavior practically automatically.

New challenges are important

But new challenges, even if they initially involve stress, are important. Because only by coping with them can we achieve the flow that motivates us to achieve top performance. On the other hand, if you hold on to stubborn behavior and rigid thinking patterns, you are denying this euphoric feeling.
However, overwhelming also poses great problems. On the other hand, while we get bored of stupid work, we always come across challenges that we find stressful, overwhelming and unpleasant. Often these are situations that we believe we cannot cope with. Good examples of this are the economic crises, the general labor market situation or the job cuts in the company - all things that individuals cannot influence and which therefore give us the feeling that we are at the mercy. In such moments, negative distress arises. It always occurs when there is no way out, because the human brain does not have a solution mechanism for this problem due to a lack of experience. In contrast to eustress, we do not experience flow in such situations, but often feel helpless and fearful.

Stress has unsightly side effects

Swiss researchers have found that stress tarnishes our memory. Because cortisol is released from the adrenal cortex to protect the body from overexertion. It blocks memory, among other things, leads to a high blood sugar level and acidification of the blood and to a weakening of the thyroid function.
Sometimes the overwhelming is homemade. Neurobiological studies show that some people become addicted to the body's own happiness hormones, the flow. They therefore cause stressful situations even on purpose, because with the positive feeling that they have overcome a problem, they constantly strengthen their self-confidence. But this way, initial eustress can quickly become distress. The body can only relax when the enormous energy potential, which is based on a physical reaction and is created by the release of stress hormones, is completely reduced. However, those who are permanently under current will soon believe that they are overloaded, that a task is insurmountable and therefore loses all motivation.


Euphoria turns into frustration. This is exactly the way the author duo Axel Braig / Ulrich Renz describes in their book “The art of working less” using the example of a manager: with a creative, euphoric idea, he founds a company with friends that will soon flourish. Breathless, he spends the next few years in the frenzy of optimism. Nothing is more important to him than work, he feels important in his position and the feeling of solving big tasks strengthens his self-confidence.
People who work a 38-hour week and go home at noon on Friday find him outrageous. But at some point the intoxication evaporates. The company grows, costing, key figur...

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