It sometimes happens that the better you are at your job, the less-and-less time you seem to have. The more effectively you execute your duties, the more you are called upon to do even more. It is truly the winner’s curse.

More and more

Clients, bosses and colleagues all begin to want more-and-more of you. And, if you work in an industry that has a convention of operating beyond normal working hours, this can become a real problem. Swept-up in the results you are getting, you might devote more-and-more of your dwindling free time to meeting the demands made of you.

The work gets done and everyone’s happy, but what about you?

Winner’s curse

winner's curseThe winner’s curse is usually used to describe the problem of a bidder having won an auction, but at the expense of overpaying in order to win. Similarly, in your career, appreciation from clients and bosses may come at the expense of overwork. And, this may be too high a price to pay.

You might “overpay” with lost sleep, eating badly, exercise, personal relationships, and ultimately your overall health. And, if you are not careful, this can lead to burnout. Sustained overwork may even create a new normal, where satisfied clients and bosses begin to take your unsustainable behaviour for granted! And, that is certainly not a good place to be.

Setting boundaries

Each one of you will face unique challenges in your work environments. Whatever these may be, a relentless willingness to do more-and-more is unlikely to lay a sustainable foundation for any career. As difficult as it may feel, sometimes you may have to say “no”. You may have to manage the expectations that people have of you.

You might be surprised as to how your actions are received because no one wants to lose a good employee. Indeed, having the courage to take care of yourself may even send a strong signal that you understand the long-game.

And, if people still continue to make unreasonable demands that negatively affect your mental and physical health, this then begs a fundamental question — should you be doing what you are doing at all?

Final words

It is often tempting to take on increasingly more in your career as you look to prove yourself and excel at what you do. And, why wouldn’t you, because of course, we all want to do well. But, if you feel like you are being swept-up in doing increasingly more, take a step back and ask yourself: Have I fallen victim to the winner’s curse?

Find out more about Harsha’s work