Two weeks ago, we talked about the importance of health and how it can impact your job. This week, I want to tease out the inverse scenario. That being, when your job creates poor health, or at least when your job doesn’t encourage good health.
For many of us in industrialized societies, working just 40 hours per week sounds fairly pleasant. Even as countries like Germany taunt their ability to offer workers 28 hour work weeks, an increasing number of American workers are staying at work well over 45 hours per week. Often dipping into the 50’s, 60’s, or even higher! Depending on the job, that may not be so bad on your health, but there are an overwhelming number of jobs where even 40 hours is considered dangerous to your health. Unfortunately, just up and quitting a job isn’t a solid plan for most of us. So, aside from leaving your job, what can you do?!
- Limit yourself (if possible) to 40 hours per week. Or at least ask if improved compensation for the hours beyond 40 is feasible.
- Ensure that you are doing everything as safe as possible. This includes sitting at your desk or workstation and carrying those boxes across the office or warehouse.
- Eat a well balanced diet. One that gets the necessary nutrients in your body.
- Stay active. Keep your heart strong and body in shape!
- Stay focused and committed to accomplishing small tasks. Even when the most tempting interruptions pop up and try to side-track you.
But what happens when you seemingly do the healthiest things, your job can only accommodate so much, and you still fall ill or experience poor health? This is what has recently happened to me. After nearly three months of unpaid leave from work due to hospitalizations and poor health, my employer needed to shift me to a different position as not to jeopardize profitability. Essentially putting me in a less volatile position until I’m able to return to work at a full-time schedule without jeopardizing my wellbeing. It’s not as though I am necessarily about to lose my job, but this shift is still a significant change in both time consumed and money earned. Also, when I was at work prior to my health woes, it wasn’t like I was submitting myself to dangerous health situations. I have a healthy diet, I try to do everything as safe as possible, I even went as far as trying a stand-up desk to help with my chronic hip and back pain from a previous injury. (Side note: that spurred a significant number of colleagues to do the same! That’s been mildly entertaining, to say the least.)
My point being, we aren’t in control of everything happening to us. In fact, we realistically control only a very small share of the decisions being made. So what?!? Well, take each of those decisions seriously, and focus on maintaining yourself first. After all, if you can’t maintain yourself, why should you be put in a position where you are responsible for others? Same goes for me! In fact, that’s exactly what changed when my employer changed my responsibilities until my health returns. Those people that I was responsible for, now have someone who can work enough time per week to ensure their needs are met.
Back to health though….some of us, (not exactly me) are fortunate enough to have phenomenal health even with little effort. Even for those people, I highly recommend being proactive about staying healthy. Even if genetics and your environment are on your side, poor health can seemingly pop up out of nowhere and dramatically influence your life. So, use caution, avoid harmful things, eat cleaner, exercise better, and have an appropriate level of respect for the things that influence your well being.
On another note, my wife and I are digging into the finances again and doing a lot of research with the anticipated expense of our first house this year. Our lives are to the point where having a home would be advantageous both emotionally and financially, plus we are finally to the point where our careers are on paths that we love. I am curious however about any suggestions, warnings, or other advice from you all. We have encountered a lot of the basic financial “rules” like not exceeding 28% of your net income for housing (among others), and have gotten advice from a few trusted friends and family. I will be posting more in the coming weeks about this process and would love to have some questions from you guys to answer. So, feel free to comment or email with any questions that I could tackle.