5 Tell-Tale Signs You’re Suffering From Work Martyrdom and How to Regain Your Life

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A lot of people claim to be married to their careers, but what happens when the marriage becomes a one-sided chore? Work martyrdom sneaks in when we least expect it. If you feel like your job is an incompetent spouse that’s disrupting your life and impossible to divorce, you’re more than likely a work martyr. If everything that makes you happy is playing second fiddle to everything that stresses you out, you need to recognize it and make some changes for the better.

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#1 You Don’t Keep a Social Calendar Anymore

Social calendars are for people who have the time and freedom to go out and enjoy their lives. If you feel as though you’re not that person anymore, something is seriously wrong. Your work commitments may override your leisurely time (including time with your family) to the point that you don’t even contemplate the sweet release of going out for some junk food or a cheesy movie with your friends. It’s important to have that time – even if you need to force those little treats for yourself into your schedule. Don’t let stress override the occasional small pleasure you’ve worked so hard to earn. Mandate a few small joys every month.

#2 Requesting Assistance Feels Embarrassing

Everyone needs help – whether they’re a cashier at a grocery store or the leader of the free world. If you’re caught up in work martyrdom, you likely feel disconnected from the larger scope of what “everyone” means. Asking for help might feel like you’re making moves to override your own pride, and that’s not a healthy feeling.

If you feel like that help isn’t readily available to you, you might want to contemplate asking your boss to hire an assistant or another person to deal with certain aspects of your work. This is especially true if the reason you need help is because you’re being given too much.

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#3 You Work Harder for Less Reward

Unless you receive bonuses or excellent perks for going above and beyond what’s expected of you, you don’t really have a reason to. All you need to do to prove yourself at work is complete everything that was directly asked of you, provided you’re doing those things to the best of your ability. Don’t let it feel like it’s your job to get everything done when no one else is pulling their weight.

Remember that you’re not accountable for the details and tasks of your equals in the workplace. If you manage team members, their failure to complete things on time is also a reflection on them. Understand what responsibilities fall directly under your purview and focus on those things first. If too much pressure is being placed on you, it might be time to get a new job.

#4 You Sense Incompetence Around You

A normal workplace will have a great culture. The breakroom should be full of your coworkers reflecting on how great a project went, scarfing down some healthy snacks, and congratulating each other on a job well done. If you see these celebrations as overindulgent and your coworkers as people who don’t have much to be happy about, you might need to take a few steps back.

If people aren’t doing their jobs correctly, it’s up to their managers to tell them. It’s not your responsibility to step in and intervene. It might feel like a wise move because you genuinely care about the success of the company you work for and you feel as though you’ve worked too hard to see things fail because of others, but don’t let that instinct overcome you. If the hammer falls because someone didn’t do what they were supposed to do, that hammer won’t fall on you.

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#5 Do You Sleep Anymore?

Stress and lack of sleep are heavily associated with burnout and work martyrdom. If you can’t even pencil in enough shut-eye to leave you feeling recharged in the morning, it’s time to completely change your priorities. You need to take care of yourself first, no matter what sense of loyalty and commitment you feel to your job. If you aren’t the best version of yourself, you can’t be the best employee. Come up with a basic self-care routine (including a bedtime and adhere to it. Everything else can wait. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your workplace probably wouldn’t do as much for you as you’re doing for it. Make sure your relationship with work is equal and proportionate.

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