Are the lines between work and home life blurred? Do you check work email at home, take your laptop on vacation, or stay late at the office most nights? You’re addicted to work. You never rest.
Work consumes your waking hours. It’s all you can think of and it satisfies some sort of need. You feel incomplete without it.
Whew! If this dizzying scenario sounds familiar, you may be a workaholic.
What drives a person to become a workaholic? What are the signs or symptoms of workaholism? Is there a way to find balance? Take a deep breath and keep reading.
No doubt the culture you live in plays an important role in making you who you are. People are busy and busybodies. As you see the busyness around you, you’re compelled to join in.
Your culture and family may value a strong work ethic, financial success, or overachievement. Such goals drive many people to overwork. People who work hard and make a lot of money are seen as smart and successful. The chance to work your way up the corporate ladder is a big motivation for some folks. Workaholics may be addicted to the positive reinforcement found in raises, promotions, bonuses, praise from their boss, or respect from their coworkers.
Helpful as it may be, technology only contributes to the problem of overworking.
Thanks to laptops and smartphones, you can take your work anywhere. Whereas work used to have to be done at the office, your office follows you wherever you go.
While these factors may contribute to a work addiction, they are not responsible for your inability to stop working. You must make the choice to either live for work or to work to live.
Just because you work hard or often doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a workaholic. It’s when you’re so preoccupied with work that everything else falls to the side that it may be workaholism. If you’re so invested in work that you ignore your marriage, kids, friends, social events, or physical health, your life is out of balance.
You can know you’re a workaholic if you...
...dream of being at work while relaxing on the beach.
...look for ways to work while no one is looking.
...have trouble delegating work tasks.
...like to be in control and micro-manage.
...neglect family time because of work.
...make work phone calls when at home.
...get to work early and stay late.
...get impatient with people who have priorities other than work.
...constantly talk about work-related issues.
...turn your hobbies into moneymaking projects.
...believe that money will solve all your problems.
...haven’t used any vacation days or personal days in over a year.
As with any addiction, workaholics may be in denial. Despite the symptoms and possible health consequences (stress, anger, depression, and anxiety), workaholics may not see their addiction for what it truly is. They may need the support of family, the encouragement of friends, and the counsel of a professional psychotherapist to identify and change negative thought and behavior patterns. A therapist can help a workaholic find a healthy balance in all areas of his life: work, family, friends, self, and recreation.
If you feel you’re on the brink of workaholism, consider these words of advice.
Set boundaries. If your workday is from nine until five, work from nine until five.
Turn off your cell phone when you’re home with the family.
Schedule uninterrupted family and friend time. Be present physically and mentally.
Spend time doing other enjoyable activities, such as hobbies, travel, exercise, a board game, or a date with your significant other.
Plan a vacation. Take some days off to rest and slow down. Your body needs it. When you return to work, you’ll be focused and energized.
Reevaluate your life goals and your life purpose. Ask yourself why do you do what you do? What really matters? You only get one life. Make the best of it!