You're sad because you're working too hard, but also because you're working too little
After the hibernatory break in the Northern Hemisphere, it's unfortunately not uncommon for early January to be marked by self-doubt. To some extent, this is standard self-appraisal after a hiatus in normal life. But if you work in finance, it might be made worse by two things: the amount of time you work, and the amount of time you want to work.
A study late last year by academics in South Korea found that it's not just long working hours that cause low mood, but a mismatch between the number of hours you aspire to work.
While people working more than 64 hours a week are therefore at greater risk of feeling depressed, so too are people working less than 28 hours a week. The greater the mismatch between aspired and actual working hours, the greater the depression risk.
In professions like financial services, which often attract people who (rightly or wrongly) seek self-validation through long working hours, this means it's not just about being over-employed in 2024, but not having enough to do. It also explains why some people, who leave banking to work in the easier world of corporate development, find it difficult to cope.
As the chart below, taken from the study, shows, the optimal number of hours to work each week seems to be between 40 and 46. However, this is for everyone and isn't specific to finance.
Even so, the general conclusion probably still applies. Low mood is caused by a mismatch between the hours you work and the hours you want to work. If you want to feel fulfilled this year, it will help to match the two.
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