A part of me often wonders if I am a recovering workaholic. A few months back I noticed that when I am busy, multi-tasking, with back to back appointments and juggling a million things successfully, I feel a great sense of achievement, like I am superwoman, with super-human powers thanks to the power juice of adrenalin. I am ‘high’ on this illusion of power and ability. Wow, look at me go go go go! But it is not sustainable and as the balls fall, I crash into disillusionment and exhaustion. Sounds like a rollercoaster of addiction or a sign of having taken on too much and working too hard?
As with everything in life, workaholism can be experienced along a continuum. In everyday language, and on the one side of the continuum, you may describe someone who is overly invested in their work at the expense of other aspects of their lives as a workaholic. Whilst on the other end, experts generally agree that workaholism is a symptom of an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder characterised by perfectionism, inflexibility, and a preoccupation with work. The key factor is that the obsession of the workaholic with work is characterised by the imbalance in life. But in today’s world, does this not refer to most people?
A more helpful way to figure out if you are a workaholic is to know that at some point the work has become an addiction. Thus for, the expression of this personality disorder is workaholism! A person needs to be obsessively thinking about it for most of the time, including after hours and on weekends; making it difficult to focus their attention on anything other than work. The other personality trait is also working excessively hard, such as putting in more hours per day and week than is normal and than is required.
Don’t worry, if you are either working long hours to pay your bills or to meet a deadline and you would prefer to be doing something else with your time, or you love your job but work 35 – 40 hours per week, spending the rest of your time on recreational, social and personal activities, you are not a workaholic. You can work hard but still have balance in your life – even if it is temporarily skewed by current demands at work.
It is interesting to note that more and more women are believed to be workaholics, this is partly because more women are in the workplace but also because these obsessive compulsive traits can also be found in homemakers, who have lost a balance in their lives, obsessing about parenting and/or running the household at the expense of other aspects of their lives.
Robinson also believes that workaholics are not only found at the workplace but is also prominent in homes. “It’s my belief that even before this trend, workaholics were doing this in the home. It could be in their parenting to the point where there is nothing else to balance their lives, no hobbies or fun or spirituality, because they spend all their time as the PTA president, running the youth sports league, and being a scout leader.”
So, are you a workaholic?
Since workaholism is a form of an addiction, the work addicts tend to be in denial about how their behaviour affects themselves and others. Often they only realise their problem when something catastrophic happens – such as their health completely fails or their marriage or relationships are destroyed.
Do you have these characteristics?
You cannot enjoy life and have no sense of purpose when you’re not at work/busy running your household.
You are preoccupied with work/household (almost always thinking about it).
You are uncomfortable with delegating (need to control every detail).
Other aspects of your life (such as relationships, health and personal interests) are neglected.
Other parts of your life are merged with work (e.g. hobbies are turned into businesses).
You find yourself lying about doing something else when you’re actually working.
Being a workaholic is something that can be adjusted and changed. It will ultimately benefit you in by helping you have the right balance between work and life.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!