It has been said that too much of everything is bad, and for the most part we believe it. Yet, work is such an honourable endeavour that it’s not so easy to comprehend “too much” of it. Is there really such a thing as being a workaholic? Yes there is, and here are 5 important things to know about workaholism:
1. Workaholism is an unhealthy compulsion to overwork. Whereas sheer passion for what you do propels you to high productivity, constantly thinking of how you can cut time from other important things in order to work, consistently working for longer hours than you intended, refusing to listen to those around you when they tell you to cut down on work, and literally working yourself sick, are all signs of chronic workaholism.
2. Workaholism is often a more serious addiction than we realise or care to admit. Consider someone who regularly turns to work in order to assuage their guilt or anxiety, or to get relief from depression. Or someone who is constantly thinking about work even when not working, and feels stressed, restless or out of sorts when they are barred from working (such as when on vacation or forced to rest on doctor’s orders). We instantly recognise such behaviours as addictions when they have to do with food or alcohol, and we correctly diagnose the withdrawal symptoms when they manifest, but when it’s work we tend to ignore it.
3. Workaholism is destructive. With barely any energy left for love and fun at the end of the day, children of workaholics suffer, marriages crash, and the workaholic’s personality is also altered as the urge to work takes precedence over other feelings and considerations. This is bad enough without considering the toll that prolonged overworking takes on a person’s health.
4. Workaholism sneaks up on sufferers. It goes beyond just working long hours. At first, you’re simply hardworking, but when your family begins to suffer from your being emotionally absent even while you’re with them, and you are quickly dissatisfied with every new height you attain, you need to watch it.
5. Workaholism can be prevented. If you are a hard worker you must have boundaries in place. Sometimes you’re required to overwork temporarily, like when there’s a deadline or a high-intensity project at hand. This should never be your “normal”. Make sure you schedule down time to replenish yourself afterwards. If you get a new job or are promoted to a new position, be sure to adjust your schedule accordingly to include time for rest, relaxation and relationships – and protect this time fiercely.
It profits you nothing at the end of the day if you reach the heights of your career, only to find yourself without people who truly love you to celebrate you, or your health too badly affected to enjoy your success. Life is not all about work. Live fully.