Whether we like it or not, work is an unavoidable part of life. We all have bills to pay and food to put on the table.
But for many of us, we also want to do well in the workplace. Climbing the career ladder gives us a sense of pride, purpose, and accomplishment.
Regardless of whether you work to live, or live to work, there are certain things that you should never sacrifice for your job.
1) Your health
It’s often the way that we take our health for granted. We can put our bodies through quite a lot.
But it’s only when something goes wrong that we realize that our health is actually the most important thing in life.
Because without it, nothing else will work.
That means we can’t lose sight of giving ourselves:
- A balanced and nutritious diet (no skipping breakfast to get to the office early or hurriedly eating lunch at your desk every day!)
- A good night’s sleep
- Enough exercise
It also means that we should:
- Take sick days when we need them
- Pay attention to when we’re feeling run down and depleted
2) Your peace of mind
Ok, we’ve covered your physical health, but clearly, your mental health is just as important.
Your sanity is not ever something worth giving up in exchange for a paycheck.
Stress, anxiety, and burnout are an all too regular occurrence.
Sometimes we need to learn to switch off when we leave our workplace, rather than bringing it home with us.
But we also need to protect our mental health by:
- Keeping track of when we’re putting in long hours
- Making sure we take proper breaks
- Making sure we do things to unwind
- Saying no to extra work that feels like a burden
- Speaking up if things start to feel too much
- Protecting our free time, rather than always being at the beck and call of your work
All of that will demand some healthy boundaries — which is yet another thing we should never be prepared to sacrifice.
3) Your boundaries
Being able to say no, deciding what is best for you, and drawing a line in the sand. These are all rights that we are each entitled to.
Just because someone pays your wages, it doesn’t mean they should be able to push your boundaries.
If you feel like your employer walks all over you, there’s a good chance your boundaries have been eroded.
To strengthen them you may need to:
- Set your working hours and stick to them
- Refuse to reply to work emails or messages on your own time
- Refuse to take on other people’s work
- Decline unreasonable requests
- Practice upfront communication
- Readdress any work-life imbalances
This demands that we take note of how we’re feeling and know our limits.
But the truth is that we all get to decide for ourselves how we expect to be treated.
Otherwise, we’re at risk of losing our self-respect.
4) Your dignity
How you feel about yourself matters.
It will seriously eat away at your self-esteem if you allow yourself to work in an environment where you feel:
- Taken for granted
- Put down
Don’t let someone speak to you in a rude or downright abusive way. They may be your boss, but that doesn’t entitle anyone to treat you poorly.
You never need to stay silent and simply accept bad behavior, just because you are scared of rocking the boat.
Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in the workplace.
5) Your values and morals
When you get a gut feeling that something isn’t right, it’s time to listen to it.
Sadly, some people are prepared to sell their souls for a quick buck. But turning away from your integrity is never worth the money.
Having to do things that go against your own moral compass is a price too high to pay.
Sure, not everyone will get to do a job that fills them with joy. But at the very least you should always be able to look at yourself in the mirror each morning.
Getting better acquainted with your core values is a good way to make sure you remain grounded by your own principles.
6) Your most significant relationships
That might include your family, your children, a partner, or your closest friends.
Some relationships in our lives aren’t as significant as others. But the most important ones should always come before work.
Studies have proven that good social relationships are the most consistent predictor of a happy life. They’re also linked to better health and even longer life.
So we need to protect them and invest in them. After all, it’s the people we share our lives with that give it meaning.
All that over time may bring you more money, but at what price?
Plenty of people regret neglecting their relationships on their way to the top.
Because when they do make it, success can be a lonely place without someone to share it with.
It’s always worth contemplating whether experiences mean more to us than material possessions.
7) Your bigger priorities
Life is full of competing priorities, and everyone’s are different.
One of the reasons why I love to do the wheel of life exercise is that it’s great a helping you figure out your own priorities and the things you may be neglecting.
Because often when we stop to take stock of our life, we discover that some things don’t match up.
What we say is most important to us isn’t where we are devoting the most time, energy, or commitment.
Your priorities will most likely shift at different times in your life. But we should never lose sight of them.
It’s not worth sacrificing what is most important to YOU at any given time, for the sake of your job.
Bottom line: Money isn’t everything
It may be true that money makes the world go round, so there’s no denying that having a job is important.
But we should also remember the wise words of entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant:
“A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought – they must be earned.”