Many people I talk to or that follow me online comment about all of the irons I have in the fire. Part of that is that I enjoy what I do and sometimes I just get into a creative explosion and can’t control myself, but the truth is, you can work too much.
I know popular gurus will tell you to work smarter but not harder and others will say you get what you put in. Then there are others that talk about a 4-hour work week. (yeah, that ain’t happening for me!) But with that all said, you have to know your limits.
As a recovering workaholic (yes, there is definitely such a thing) I still push myself further than I should some days but of late it’s because I want to and NOT the feeling I have too.
Maybe you’re a workaholic and don’t know it.
In other words, they feel the need to work at all costs, and I do mean all costs. You push aside everything else to continue working. I’m not talking about just pushing aside hobbies, tv, movies etc., but relationships, family, activities, your health, or life in general. The need to work becomes all consuming.
For me, I would get panic attacks and severe stress because I hadn’t completed a project for a client. This wasn’t from lack of work on my part, it was just circumstances of the job.
When I left corporate America and started my own business, I provided network consulting services as well as online coaching, consulting, and web development. Our firm supported several law firms and small businesses in town and there were just the two of us in the company at that point. So, in the middle of a web project a customer would call and report an outage or a computer on the fritz keeping an important business function from happening.
I was like Superman running out of the phone booth heading to a client to save the day only to return hours later than anticipated to get back to the task or web project that also had a deadline. At that time, my drive was to prove I could do it and deserved my own business. My daughters still lived at home, and I wanted to provide them with what they needed. Being raised by a single parent, I knew that it took a lot of work to achieve your goals and I was determined.
What’s The Difference Between Being Dedicated and Being A Workaholic
There is a difference between being a hard dedicated worker and a workaholic. A dedicated worker understands that work stops at the end of the shift and realizes things will be there to resume tomorrow and plans accordingly. The workaholic may leave at the end of the shift, but it consumes their entire being while not at work. They are stressed about what didn’t get done, and their minds are trying to figure out how to get it accomplished as soon as they can get back to the grind; or even taking work home to work on their own just to make sure it gets done (even on their own time). You miss out on everything because you’re consumed with the need of work.
Warning Signs of Workaholism
- Unable to delegate tasks or responsibilities because you’re afraid they won’t be done as you feel they should be done or when they should be done.
- An inability to detach work from your personal life.
- Friends contacting you because you’ve missed planned events and activities.
- Feeling the pressures of self-worth that coincides with professional accomplishments.
- Experiencing physical effects resulting from the guilt of missing work opportunities or work-related tasks such as
These are all symptoms I’ve personally faced myself. I didn’t recognize them until a good friend pointed it out to me several years ago. I’m hoping that by sharing this with you, you too may see these signs if they are part of your life so you can start making adjustments toward a better lifestyle.
Have I fully recovered? No! But I will say I’m 90% better than I was 15 years ago or even a few years ago. There are times even these in these past couple of weeks where I felt myself sliding a little back into that zone.
Even though I love what I do, I get fixated in trying to accomplish one more thing that I find myself still working at 4:00 am after getting to my desk at 8:00 am that morning and returning the next day at the same time. Then I question why my arms, neck, legs, and eyes are so tired and sore from sitting at this desk so long.
What Can You Do to Change This?
First, you need to realize you have an issue. The suffix “aholic” is defined as a person addicted to something, and while some may laugh at this, I am living proof that work can be and is an addiction. And it can be life threatening, so don’t kid yourself.
Get help! I never knew this before researching to write this article but there is a Workaholics Anonymous website—work-aholics-anonymous.org. It looks to have some great information. They even have people available to talk to about it.
My daughter gifted me a plaque I keep on the wall in front of me as a reminder to stay focused on recovering. It reads…
Secondly, force yourself to take breaks. It needs to be away from where your work is. Seriously, get up and walk away. Set a timer if you have to. I’m being 100% sincere here. Try setting a timer for when your next break will be and then a timer for when you can return.
It may take an adjustment period but try working an hour and taking a 10-minute walk. You may have to start bigger, such as work three hours and take a 15-minute walk. Force yourself to take an actual lunch break AWAY FROM YOUR DESK!
Thirdly, don’t take work to bed. You will work longer than you should, you will be more tired for the next day, and you won’t be as productive. The light from the device will keep you awake longer than you should be, and it is not healthy. Instead, grab a book for enjoyment. You will most likely find you are more tired than you originally thought.
Fourthly, (Wait is that even a word? Yes, it is. I looked it up to be sure!) Find things to keep your mind off of work. Watch a movie, go for a walk, ride a bike, visit friends, get involved in activities such as church, bowling league, sports team—whatever you have to do to keep your thoughts busy with things other than your job. You’ll find that you can actually be happy doing other things. Trust me on this!
I have found as I continue to recover from workaholism that I really enjoy sleep more than I thought. I’ve read more books than I had in a long time. I have a great family, and I love being a grandpa. That is an awesome pleasure, and spending time with my grandkids will make a big difference in both their lives and mine too.
Remember, just like any other addiction, this is something you continually need to work on. Look for ways to get more done in the time you have scheduled for work. Remove distractions, stay focused, delegate where you can. I’ll leave it here for now, but if you relate to this article, please, take care of yourself.
Take the steps needed and to really live your life. We are called human beings, not human doings for a reason.