Just before I took up my first job, I met my friends to celebrate. As I made a toast, I said “Maybe I will be a workaholic” and we all laughed. But I was serious. I thought that I would love my job so much that I never want to stop doing it. And guess what? I became a workaholic. But not for the expected reason. The reality was very different from what I thought would happen.
I was struggling. I was working day and night to meet my targets. My poor time management skills finally caught up with me. The unreasonable targets didn’t help either. This time, when I told my friends about being a workaholic, no one laughed because they hadn’t seen me in almost four months. I was always working.
This kind of situation got me thinking. I always thought that being a workaholic was a good thing. I thought it shows dedication and commitment. But once it took a toll on my health and relationships, I realised how wrong I was. From this, I learnt that there are types of workaholism. The connotations that are attached to the word makes all the difference.
A study done by Wilmar B. Schaufeli, Toon W. Taris and Arnold B. Bakker differentiates the two connotations of workaholism: they define workaholism as the negative connotation and work engagement as the positive view of workaholism.
They have combined many other studies to show the difference.
Three dimensions are usually employed to look at workaholism empirically: Work involvement, drive, and work enjoyment
The different combinations of these underlying dimension would determine which bucket you would fall into.
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If you rank high in work involvement, drive and enjoyment, you would be considered an enthusiastic workaholic. A happy hard worker is the one who is low in drive but high in the other two dimensions. And, lastly an unenthusiastic workaholic is one who is high in drive and involvement but ranks low for enjoyment.
The motivation of a workaholic is what typically differentiates between good or bad. An unenthusiastic workaholic is the one you do not want to be. This type of workaholism is stressful and joyless. It leads to many health defects. Not to mention that it is an addiction that can adversely affect the quality of your life. When the motivation to work is no longer for any external benefits (money or career growth), but to quell an inner psychological compulsion, it is considered an addiction.
This workaholism is a form of OCD.
While, in my situation I was able to identify that I had become a workaholic because it was not an internal compulsion. I was aware of my situation. For someone who is not, here are some ways you can identify if you are a workaholic.
Signs Of Workaholism:
- Your family and friends complain about how they don’t get to spend time with you.
- If you think of work even when you’re not at work.
- You prioritise work over everything else. Even family, friends, and self-care.
- You work even if you are sick.
- You hate taking breaks from work. You sometimes forget to eat when at work.
- Your health takes a toll. High blood pressure, frequent headaches, and gastrointestinal problems are frequent.
- You cannot delegate work to others and would rather do it yourself. And even when you do delegate, you are more likely to micromanage.
- Stressing out when you are not working.
- You push yourself beyond the requirement.
- You would rather take on more responsibility at work than at home.
- Neglecting self-care.
- Working into the night and on weekends.
- You don’t know how to relax when you’re not working.
- You work longer than your co-workers.
- You don’t have a life outside of work. No hobbies. No social life.
If you identified with more than five of the above signs, you might be a workaholic. Your company and boss might appreciate this, but the other aspects of your life will suffer. Your friends and family may feel distant and you won’t be able to enjoy the simple things in life. Workaholism is one of the biggest reasons for a family breaking up. And I believe that health is wealth. There is no point to the wealth you have incurred if you cannot enjoy it because of ill health.
You need to dial back from work to find a work-life balance. Breaking your addiction can be quite difficult, but it is imperative that you stick to the commitment.
The following steps can help you do this.
Tips To Stop Being A Workaholic
- Schedule in time to be unproductive and just relax.
- When you are relaxing, try not to think about work.
- Don’t check your emails as and when they are delivered. Schedule time for that as well.
- Start your day with exercise to bring in some healthy practices in your life.
- Eat healthily and regularly.
- Take a break at work as well.
- Finish all your work at the office. Do not bring it home.
Rekindle your social life.
- Get a new hobby.
- Take a vacation
But maybe, as an entrepreneur, work life balance is not really feasible for you. Especially if you are just starting out.
Entrepreneurs usually do not need a balance (because they can’t afford to) but boundaries.
Workaholics are also very prone to burnout, which is what causes the defects in health. If you identify with signs of burnout, it really is high time you take a chill pill.
If you are addicted to work in a way that even these tips are not helpful you might have to seek professional help. You might need to go through therapy to be able to get your life back in order.
It will be difficult at first but with the support of family and friends you can definitely feel better again.
[This post by Sannidhi Surop first appeared on Jobspire and has been reproduced with permission.]