Research from King’s Business School suggests that people who feel their work is integral to their lives and identity may actually find it difficult to sustain productivity over long periods of time. Ironically, this approach could ultimately damage long-term success. According to Dr Michael Clinton, who studied the working lives of 193 Church of England ministers, people who view their career as an intense calling are less able to successfully disengage from work in the evenings which limits their energy levels the following morning.
One would assume that these people would dedicate more energy to their work. However, Clinton has discovered that having an intense career calling motivates people to work longer hours which directly limits their psychological detachment from work. In turn reducing sleep quality and their ability to focus.
“A calling produces a set of superior goals that are given higher priority over other life goals,” Clinton says. “This focus on calling-related goals can be problematic when the additional goals, which may include both personal and family related goals, are not given sufficient attention and when they are important for individual functioning.”
Clinton found that the minsters who strongly believed their existence would be much less meaningful without their involvement in the church could engage less frequently in daily recovery processes that typically help protect people from work-related strain.
Individuals display workaholic tendencies in almost every sector, from zookeepers to bank managers, but this research suggests that intense career dedication could actually impede both professional and personal success in the long run.
“This study has shed light on how callings may often be challenging for an individual, demanding more of them than perhaps less meaningful and consuming endeavours. People should be aware of how much value they place on their career and the subsequent effects of this on their life,” Clinton concludes.