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11 Warning Signs That Your Job Owns You (Without You Knowing It)

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You walk into work a couple minutes early and head straight to your desk.  You open your inbox, take a look through your to-do list, and get ready to start the day.  You try to plan your day as quickly as possible to insure you get everything finished early so you can meet friends for drinks after work.

You’re particularly motivated because you have plans, so you knock out your first three tasks in record time.  Then all hell breaks loose.

All of a sudden you’re fielding emergency phone calls with one hand, answering emergency emails with the other, scheduling two hours worth of meetings and just like that you have to cancel your plans.

“I guess that’s just how the world works sometimes,” you say to yourself.  I say – that’s exactly how the world works if your job owns you.

If You’re An Employee, Your Job Probably Owns You


Let’s be honest, as much as we want to be defined by our family, friends, hopes, and dreams, in the real world we are largely defined by what we do for a living.  That’s nothing new.  Throughout history and across cultures the follow-up to the question “what’s your name?” has been “what do you do?”  Think of the last time you met someone new.  How much of that initial introduction was spent discussing careers?

It’s definitely a turn-off thinking about your job as among the most defining forces in our lives.  Virtually no one wants to be tied to that.  We want to be acknowledged for our intrinsic worth, our intelligence, our potential, and our past successes.  “I’m so much more than what I do for a living” we say, and that’s basically true.

But jobs are sneaky.

They have a way of infiltrating our lives so completely that we don’t realize they’ve taken over.  Worst still, they’ve infiltrated the lives of everyone around us, so being owned by your job is “normal.”

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  I say the first step is noticing that there is a problem.

Here are the 11 warning signs you’re owned by your job:

1.  Most of Your Waking Hours Are Spent At Work

Jobs own a huge percentage of our time.

Most of us are awake for about 16 hours a day or 112 hours a week.  Of those 112 hours, generally between 40 and 60 are spent at work.  If you factor in a couple hours for commutes, we’re looking at about 50 to 70 work-dedicated hours every week.

The bottom line is for most people around half of their entire waking life happens at work.  Calculate the percentage of waking hours you spend in work-related activities and see where you fall.

2.  Without Your Job, You’d Have No Money

For most people, their job is their sole source of income.  If you’re in that situation you’re trapped doing whatever your company requires.  As much as we’d like the world not to rely so heavily on cash, the simple fact is that without some, we’re severely limited in what we’re able to do.  If you have multiple income streams, your dependency on your job significantly decreases.

3. Your Job Determines Your Market Value

Most people’s resumes are filled almost completely with job descriptions and work experiences.  Their job security and personal market value is almost completely dependent on what opportunities their employers had let them have.  It shouldn’t be.

Think of it this way – if you can remove work experience and still have a compelling resume, you win.


4. Your Biggest Source of Negative Stress Is Your Job


Owning your time and owning your money is one thing.  Owning your emotions is quite another.  If you’re in a situation when you’re waking up in the morning in a cold sweat with the thought of going to work or hate going to sleep knowing that waking up means going back, your job has infiltrated your emotions.  It’s just work, it shouldn’t have to be that big of a deal.


5. You Talk About Work All The Time

What percentage of your day-to-day conversation is focused on job-related topics?  At the bar are you talking about how much your job sucks?  At home are you talking to your girlfriend about the project you’re in the middle of?  Sometimes just diversifying our conversation topics can open up our world and loosen our job’s control.


6. You Keep Deciding Not To Do Things You Want

We’ve all had to tell a friend we can’t hang out because we have a work conflict.    It may be an issue if it happens frequently.  If you start to become the person who is known to be super busy at work all the time who probably can’t make it to things, then your job probably has too much control over your life.  It may be more of a priority in your life than you’d like it to be.


7. You Can’t Wait to get a Certain Promotion

A driving motivation for most people to succeed at work is to get a promotion.  Not just any promotion, but that certain level in the corporate ladder where everything will be better.  We all have to go through hard knocks before we get to the good stuff, after all.  But if a work promotion starts becoming the door to happiness and freedom in your mind, then your job starts owning your ambition and starts owning your goals.


8. You Cannot Wait For Retirement So You Can Start Living

It’s a bizarre world when most peoples’ main motivation to work is to eventually stop working.  Retirement is the end goal for many folks.  When that’s the mindset, it’s almost like admitting that your job owns your life until you’re almost 60 years old.  Work should be an element of your life.  It shouldn’t be your life.  It shouldn’t delay your life.


9. You Have to Be At Work Even If You’re Not Productive

So you’re at your desk at work and you have nothing to do.  You’re reading Google News and watching YouTube and just generally killing time.  Even though you’re not productive, you still have to be there.  In theory, the reason you should be at work is to contribute to making your company money or making your company more efficient.  When work owns your time by forcing you to be productive, that’s bad.  When your work owns your unproductive time too, that’s worse.


10. You Check Work Emails/Voice Mails/Texts After Work Hours


When you leave work do you actually leave work?  Or does it follow you home?  If work owns some of your life, have you found a way to keep it trapped in it’s own box, or are the lines between your career and personal life blurring?


11. You Learned Anything Valuable Since School

What’s the last useful skill or important piece of information you’ve learned?  What’s the last thing you’ve done to meaningfully improve your capabilities?  In your career if you don’t feel like you’re consistently improving skills, learning valuable new information, and becoming a more valuable person, then your job may not be letting you grow.

Of all the parts of your life, it’s your personal and professional growth that you should never let your job control.  You should do everything to own that.  If you’re not getting the opportunity to grow at your workplace, you need to find a different job or strike out and learn new skills and information on your own.

Your Life is Yours to Own


The simple truth is that the majority of people are owned by their job.  At the same time, most people don’t realize it because being owned by your job is common.

This article isn’t meant to be doom and gloom.  It’s meant to challenge you.  If you’ve decided that your job has too much control over your life then it’s time for you to change that.  But it’s completely up to you.  Your life is yours to either own or rent out to your employer.

So you have a couple of decisions to make.  First, decide if you comfortable with how much your job owns you?  Second, decide what are you going to do to change it?

Go out and reclaim your life.

Joey teaches people how to improve themselves while getting paid to do it (that sexy intersection of personal development and online business) over at  If that sounds interesting, check it out by >>Clicking Here Now<<

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