Sunday, May 2, 2010

Falling into overwork

One of the few disagreeable parts of the freelance life is the feast or famine nature of the work. Some people have steady clients after a while and things go along swimmingly until the client folds or hires someone in house. Some people never have much work and scrape by. I tend to have a lot of work for a few months, then some weeks of very little.

It takes me a while to relax into the big spaciousness of very little work, to do the things I want to do and enjoy them, without worrying about where the money will come from. Then when work starts up again, I have a hard time buckling down to keep at it.

Right now I'm in a big glut of work. Because I had very little work for 6 weeks, I need to make all the money I can right now, which means taking on a lot of projects and working nights and weekends to get it all done. I'm grateful for the work and grateful to be able to support myself doing some I like and am good at. I'm also grateful for the flexibility to work at home and take vacations when I want to.

But the overworking is also dangerous for me because it's easy to convince myself that I deserve to eat whatever I want whenever I want it. I can justify extra food as fuel, as reward, as a substitute for sleep. And in the short run, that may be all right. But in the long run, it leads me into addictive places where I'm just eating to be eating.

And work can become its own addiction, feeding into a need to achieve, overachieve, be needed, be needed even more, prove something to myself or some unspecified someone that I can do it, that I can juggle all kinds of projects. What begins to slip away is my sense of rightness with myself and my spiritual program. And that's not good for me.

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