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Do You Suffer From “Work Sickness?” What It Is and How to Beat It




You arrive at work tired from a restless night worrying about a “must-win” proposal or how to ask for a well-needed raise.  Just a glance at your full inbox and your phone’s message button blinking a menacing shade of red makes your pulse quicken with anxiety.  It’s been months since you’ve had a chance to let off steam at the gym. What would it be like, you wonder, to look ahead this year knowing you’ll have a chance to use the thirty some-odd vacation days you’ve accrued over the past two years? Or to have a job that offered flexibility, respect and empowerment?

With the morning’s first meeting starting in just a few minutes, there’s no time to linger on that daydream.  Instead, you bang out emails that begin, “Sorry for the delayed response but I’ve been crazy busy.”  It’s barely 8 a.m. but already you’re overwhelmed and your entire body burns with fatigue.

Sound familiar?

Do You Suffer From “Work Sickness?” What It Is and How to Beat It

If so, you may be suffering from a condition I call Work Sickness.

Work Sickness arises when, infected by fears about job security and money, we work without full engagement or real passion.  Driven by angst about not having enough, we make the pursuit of wealth and status our life’s mission even when we’re not passionate about the process.  We work more, play less and neglect the very reason for our existence: to experience the joy in life.

In addition to feeling anxious, fatigued and overwhelmed, the symptoms of Work Sickness include frustration and despair.  The deadline for that “must-win” proposal looms; it seems that getting there will leave you utterly drained.  A difficult conversation with a colleague leaves you seething and wishing you could flee.  All the while, your inbox just keeps getting fuller.  You feel as if you’re treading water at a furious pace yet barely staying afloat.

Needless to say, this takes a toll — one that’s far more profound than meets the eye.  Work Sickness, which stems from fear and from focusing on all the things we don’t want to have happen in life — has a negative impact on the body while also delving deep into the human psyche and creating a division between mind and soul.  It disrupts our balance, saps creativity and energy, and impedes the pursuit of personal passions. Work Sickness affects productivity, morale and even the manner in which we interact with one another while robbing us of time and happiness. It eclipses the joy of working with a sense of obligation, self-sacrifice and a lack of control.

I once suffered from Work Sickness.  As the VP of product management at a digital media delivery provider, I often felt that the long hours I plugged felt pointless: the goal of getting more people to watch TV on their smartphones contradicted my most fundamental values about the importance of face-to-face human connections.  The environment was toxic yet I was on the grid round the clock fighting for the job security I craved and believed I needed since my income and my lifestyle — my creature comforts — went hand in hand.  I ached to devote my time to something I felt more viscerally passionate about.


Over time, I lost my filter and stopped refraining from throwing up my hands in disgust or coming right out and telling people I wasn’t happy.  Ultimately, my attitude caught up with me and I was laid off.


Losing the job forced me to develop a whole new perspective: out in the world with nothing I was a blank slate.  In seeking where to turn next, I began seeing a career coach who helped me focus on what my innate gifts are, what I do well and what I love doing.  It was scary to be on my own, but once I decided to help others find their passion as a career coach myself, my business and client network started taking on a life of their own and growing fast through word of mouth alone.

In the trenches of the corporate world it’s hard to see past where you are — the little valley you are in.  You have to confront your fears and actually go out and search both the outside world and your soul to find your Professional Purpose.  Professional Purpose is the place where you bring to bear your unique set of talents, skills, passions and experience into the world while finding fulfillment, fun and financial reward.


Without it, we are all vulnerable to Work Sickness.

The following are four practical steps to discover and live your Professional Purpose:

Tap Your Inner-Knowing

Ask questions instead of coming to conclusions. Questions lead to growth and expansion, conclusions lead to dead-ends. For example: What am I thinking? What else is possible? Would I love this? And simply: Why?

Design a Passion Plan

Surf the web and create a Passion plan comprised of three buckets: Companies that pique your interest, Job descriptions that sound like fun and Specific functions you would enjoy from job descriptions. Once you have your lists, you can determine where to look, what additional training you might need, companies to contact and people to add to your network.

Do the 40/20

Structure your time so that you work your 40 hours but budget 20 additional hours outside of your job to:

  • Assemble your passion list

  • Develop & refine your messaging (your LinkedIn profile, resume, etc.)

  • Network and talk to everyone: Take bold actions like making the calls you’ve always feared and developing ways to stand out from the crowd!

See the Big Picture

Look for patterns and themes in your life. What have they prepared you to do? What do others come to you for advice? What comes as easily to you as breathing but is a struggle for others?


Most importantly, make life about always being true to who you are and not who or what family, friends, teachers and society tell you you ‘should’ be and you will discover your purpose. The more aligned your thoughts and beliefs are to your purpose and passions, the easier it becomes to make decisions, set and achieve goals, and keep Work Sickness from infecting your life — both professional, personal and at the many places where the two intersect.

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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



a compliment (1)

Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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