4 min read

How to redefine your relationship with work in 2023

Work may get tough next year but here are 10 ways to stand your ground
How to redefine your relationship with work in 2023
Photo by Timothy Eberly / Unsplash

Sustain issue #88 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

Happy holidays!

Next year is shaping up to be a difficult year at work for this community that cares about well-being at work, preventing burnout, and keeping stress in check 🫣 More on that next week in the final Sustain issue of the year where I make my annual predictions for work in 2023.

In my annual reader survey, you overwhelmingly said you hoped to redefine your relationship with work as a top goal for next year. So, today I’m sharing an assorted list of ways you can do just that. Even if work conditions get tough, here are a few ways you can stand your ground.

Do less, better

When the going (i.e. stock price) gets tough, there’s going to be a focus on doing more, more, more. The smartest organizations, though, will future-proof themselves by focusing on only the highest impact areas. This means you too will need to focus that way in two areas. First, you must be ruthless about prioritization and enlist your boss as a partner in doing so. Second, you must deliver super high-impact work or else you’re going to find yourself being pressured into doing everything.

Reconsider your pace

I understand this is a tough one since your spidey senses right now are telling you to work hardcore(!) and do all the things in record time so you’re seen as valuable. But I guarantee that you will not be valuable by the end of the year if you work like this now. Aim for excellence in a reasonable amount of time, not productivity hustle crushing your to-do list. Set a new baseline for the speed at which you work that allows you to deliver great work today, tomorrow, and two quarters from now.

Advocate for what you need

The Elon effect has made it sound like you’re whining when you’re really just advocating for yourself. Other CEOs and leaders are jumping on that train as well. So, we’ll play their game. No whining, only data. The CEO love language is data and revenue, after all. You can use published data combined with your own data. Recent data shows productivity is 29% higher when you have schedule flexibility (Future Forum). Or create your own data: Maybe how long a project takes at home vs. in the office. No crying here, only facts. #Productivity

Let your job be your job

Conventional wisdom says you should be passionate about your job. That your job shouldn't actually be a job but some sort of higher purpose. That is awful wisdom. Why should you give your all – your stress, your extra time, your weekends – to a company that could cut ties with you easily? So I invite you to care about your work as much as your work cares about you. I understand this is a bit crass, and it helps to enjoy what you do at some level, but it’s a job – not your life’s most profound passion. Your job is not your identity, it’s something you do. Aim to reduce your emotional connection to work in 2023.

Stop being a territorial czar

To climb that traditional ladder, we’ve been socialized to think we need to be like Clint Eastwood yelling at others to get off our lawn. However, you expend so much stress and energy maintaining your fortress – and you end up doing more work. Instead, treat those that want to come onto your lawn as a welcome neighbor and discuss how you can work together. Who knows, they may even help you mow it and you can enjoy a La Croix from the office fridge on the lawn together.  

A few other ideas to think about:

  1. Don’t rely on your job to be your only source of making friends.
  2. Invest time in discovering & engaging in non-work relationships and hobbies so you have something to turn to outside of work. You should never say, I have nothing else to do so I may as well work.
  3. If you do work in the evenings as part of making work flexible around your life, give yourself ample time (at least an hour) to wind down before bed so you can fall asleep without work circling in your mind.
  4. You’re never going to get everything done no matter how productive you are or how good your time management system is. So stop trying.
  5. Give yourself permission to say it’s not your day. You’re not going to get fired or be seen as lazy if you just gotta lay low one Thursday afternoon.
Here’s my mantra for work in 2023 if you want to borrow some or all of it // Do great work. Not too much. Socialize it. Log off.

Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

✉️ Want my top tips? I share my full step-by-step playbook in How I Quit Burnout, my premium newsletter. Get the next one delivered straight to your inbox >

🗄️ See the past issues of Sustain