Congratulations on Your Promotion… Or Maybe Not!

Photo: Henk L

If you didn’t get the promotion that you were hoping for, look on the bright side: you might be better off in the long run. During these times of economic hardship, it’s hard to imagine that rising in the ranks at work would be a bad thing, but in some instances, that appears to be the case.

In a study out of England, British researchers found that advancing in your career can sometimes lead to greater stress and strain, along with less time to deal with any problems that may arise from the added responsibilities as well as fewer opportunities to appreciate the fruits of your labors, irrespective of any monetary gains.

While the conclusions drawn from the study should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when you consider that not making enough money can be just as stressful, if not more, it is interesting to think that the so-called rewards for your hard work would impact negatively on your life. Then again, as is often the case, with greater income comes greater responsibility, and that often entails more stress, especially if the livelihood of other people rests on your shoulders.

In the end, we work towards the common goal of supporting ourselves, and it makes perfect sense that with this in mind, more is better. But it also begs the question, how much is enough? At what point does the stress from our jobs outweigh the benefits?

Most of us are familiar with the toll that stress can take on not only on us, but on our relationship with everyone around us. Besides the obvious declines in our quality of life, there are a whole host of serious physical manifestations, including heart disease, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, and even cancer.

To put it succinctly, stress can literally kill you, or at the very least, take years off of your life. So while you didn’t need me to tell you this, the bigger question is, what can we do about it?

While I don’t claim to have all the answers, or for that matter, even some of them, I have experienced more than my fair share of stress, and though at times it can be a motivating force, I have found it helpful to keep certain things in mind order to avoid letting it take over your life and literally consume you.

1. Listen to your body. Sure, part of the aging process means that our bodies begin to fall apart, and stress will only exacerbate this problem. But when stress starts to physically manifest itself as an irregular heartbeat of a constant pain in your stomach, then it’s time to reassess things.

2. Listen to your friends and family.
Because they care about you. It’s easy for us to ignore what our bodies are trying to tell us, but our loved ones might not give in so easily. In fact, because they care about us, they’ll let us know that they’re not happy about the way things are going.

3. Use your vacation days. As tempting as it may be to cash them in, it’s more important to have time off. So take your vacation days, and more importantly, enjoy them. You’ll often find yourself more efficient and productive afterward.

4. Keep things in perspective and continually remind yourself why you’re working so hard in the first place, making time for friends, family, and yourself.

5. Don’t be afraid to make a change, especially when your current situation is bringing you down, and take chances when you can. Fear often prevents us from pursuing the things we really want, even when they are within reach.

6. Set realistic goals. Nothing will make you more stressed out than trying to do more than you can reasonably accomplish, even if your efforts impress the boss.

7. Figure out how much money is enough, rather than simply trying to make more, and set your career goals accordingly.

Maybe you have some thoughts you’d like to share on this topic. If so, we’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, remember that it’s your life, and while it’s important to have job and be a responsible member of society, it’s also critical to keep things in perspective and always remember who it is you’re really working for.

And I’m not talking about your boss.

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Linsey Knerl's picture

Amen to everything you addressed in this article.  It's sad, but promotions for us usually meant sacrificing things we really valued (family, time off, hobbies, church).   Your points were dead on, Fred, and I love that you asked the "How much money is enough question."  You can live on a lot less when you aren't killing yourself from the stress of a horrible job.

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

Good point about links with type 2 diabetes. Other potential pitfalls that are easy to fall into include the increased risks of elevated blood sugar as you have less and less time for exercise and preparing healthful meals. We write extensively about issues related to blood sugar control, especially the connections between high blood sugar levels and gum disease which increase serious health risks and interfere with diabetes control, at

- Charles Martin, DDS
Founder, Dentistry For Diabetics

Guest's picture

Promotions can really screw things up for mid-level people who arranged their work life in their old positions so they had as little to do as possible (eg, fobbing off as much of their work on a combination of their own secretaries, interns, and virtual assistants based in the Third World a la Timothy Ferriss). Clueless higher-ups think the outsourcing workers has an impressive output, and so they get promoted and risk having all their tricks exposed.

Guest's picture

This all is compounded by promotions or added responsibilities that either don't come with a salary increase or the work load vs. the flat salary is not in balance.

People mistakenly assume being on salary rather than hourly is great. Many times if you take your salary and divide by the hours your actually working people get a horrible wake up call. They find that they are working for peanuts. People can be working mid level professional jobs but they are making the hourly wage of someone working the check out line at Target.

So a promotion that comes with a small salary bump but a considerable jump in expectations and hours but in might actually put you at a disadvantage.

Fred Lee's picture

Linsey, anytime I can connect with you is a good day. Dr. Martin, the health risks involved with stress are significant, and as I've just learned, oral health is directly related to our overall health on so many levels that it can't be ignored. And great point brought up by lucille, though it can work in your favor if your job is salaried and you have lull periods where things slow down and you still make the same income.

Guest's picture

Solid advice-- they say be careful what you wish for . . .

Guest's picture

I learned the hard way working for a government agency of "be careful of what you wish for." Having applied for a promotion to basically a different job within the agency I incorrectly assumed I would be provided the necessary training to be successful in my new position.

The new position was highly complex and demanding but I had a high degree of motivation. To be as concise a possible, the training was non-existent and to make matters even worst we had new management who came in and started chopping heads with little or often times no justification. This left me in a very vulnerable position during this period and I feared for my job.

It was extremely stressful and in the end the extra responsibilities were not worth the extra money. This is an important life lesson I learned the hard way!

In the end the new management did not last because of their poor leadership and treatment of the employees across the board. I wonder after their experience and ultimate demotion did they regret their promotion????