A strong work ethic is an admirable quality – not to mention a useful one at times.
But there comes a point where your commitment to work can get out of control and turn into an addiction.
It can impact your relationships. It can damage your health. And it can leave you feeling depressed and dejected.
But unlike other addictions, workaholism is highly valued by our society.
Many workaholics claim their status as a badge of honour, and don’t actually realise how much their focus on work is affecting their life.
How do you know that you are a workaholic?
What can you do to change your habits before they become toxic?
Signs that you are a workaholic
Life is an emotional rollercoaster
Many workaholics are permanently on an emotional rollercoaster. They have bursts of seemingly endless energy where they deliver results at work and feel great at home. But this relentless effort also leads to a major crash and burn. Every few weeks, a workaholic will endure a period of anxiety, irritability, depression and lowered self-worth. The body and mind simply can’t sustain the pace they have been trying to maintain. This constant cycle of ups and downs is exhausting – and unhealthy.
Your loved ones have asked you to step back
It’s a good sign that your are too immersed in your job when a loved one tells you to cut back. It’s near a definite when you hear the same feedback from multiple people in your life. Workaholics often have problems with their closest relationships. The constant prioritisation of work can easily lead to conflict. Always remember to keep perspective and acknowledge what is really important in life. Don’t let the commitment to your job trump your relationships at home.
You are always working
A balanced life should have definite boundaries between work, rest and play. From time to time, the lines between work and personal time may become blurred. But this blurring should only ever be temporary. Workaholics have a lot of trouble keeping workplace issues where they belong. They are always thinking about work, keeping one eye on their emails and doing little things at night. In effect, they are constantly engaging in a passive stream of work, and never really switching off as a result.
You devalue your own priorities
Workaholics tend to push their own priorities to the bottom of the list in favour of the job. Do you frequently miss out on catch ups with the girls? Your friends’ birthdays? Your daughter’s soccer games? Is this usually because of work?
While we all need to make sacrifices at times, work should never come at the cost of your relationships and happiness.
You rely on work for your self-worth
Workaholics don’t necessarily love their jobs. For many, an inflated work ethic can be the result of low self-esteem. People who doubt their self-worth will overwork in order to attract approval in the job. While this may lead to high fives from the boss and a temporary high, it is also dangerous. As soon as work starts to become a bit unsteady, so will your sense of identity, causing both your personal and professional life to lose out as a result.
How to change your workaholic habits
Many workaholics feel like they have no choice but to be constantly working.
There is so much to do be done, all the time!
This may be true – but do you have to do it all? Rather than taking everything on, share responsibility and don’t be afraid to hand over the reigns for a while. Dispersing responsibility will reduce the pressure weighing on your shoulders. As an added bonus, collaboration is beneficial for creativity as well as efficiency. By working in a team, you will reduce the quantity of your work and improve the overall quality.
Let go of perfection
Perfection doesn’t exist – but that doesn’t stop you from striving for it anyway. While it’s okay to hold yourself to a high standard, but make sure that you stay realistic as well. Sometimes a project or situation won’t pan out the way you had planned – it’s just a fact of life. You need to realise when it’s time to let go. Learn to accept your best effort as good enough – because 99% of the time, it is!
Stop allowing work to rule your personal life. Take the power back by creating some solid boundaries.
Set a start and finish time and stick to them. None of this eating 3 meals a day at work business. Start at 8:30 and get out that door as soon as 5pm hits. Don’t make me chase you.
Commit to an immovable activity each week. Join a sports team, a choir or volunteer for a local charity. Anything that forces you to shift your attention and focus on having fun.
Turn off email notifications on your phone. Heck, turn off your phone altogether! Whatever it takes for you to unplug from work and unwind.