Friday, November 18, 2020

Are You a Workaholic?

In "Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them," Bryan E. Robinson explains the difference between being a hard worker and being a workaholic. Here's some of what he says:
"There is a big difference between hard work and workaholism. From time to time, all of us put more hours and effort into working than we do into being with loved ones or relaxing...Workaholics operate in this fashion all of the time, using their jobs as escape...True workaholics are driven by deeper, internal needs, rather than external ones —not that it's tax season or baby needs a new pair of shoes, but that the process of working satisfies an inner, psychological hunger."
Try this checklist of workaholic traits. The more that apply to you, the more likely that you're suffering from workaholism.
  1. People close to you habitually accuse you of neglecting them in favor of work demands.
  2. You often use work pressure as an excuse to avoid people and the demands they place on you.
  3. Your work is what defines you. You need it to feel a complete person.
  4. If things slow down or work is slack, you feel compelled to create or find more work to fill the void.
  5. You prefer times alone when you can get on with your work to time spent with others.
  6. You find your thoughts are about work all the time, even when you're doing something unconnected with work.
  7. When you aren't working, you feel restless and bored. Getting back to work is like going home.
  8. You don't have time to use or enjoy what work lets you own. Others get most out of your income and lifestyle.
  9. You're never satisfied with your accomplishments. There's always the nagging sense you ought to have done more.
  10. You know your life is unbalanced, but you tell yourself you like it that way. Maybe you'll put it right sometime, but never now.
  11. The thought of being out of work (or retiring) terrifies you. You cannot imagine what you would do in place of work.
  12. You often wake several times in the course of most nights, or have trouble going to sleep, because your mind is occupied with thinking about work and work issues.
Work addiction is voluntary. You don't catch it like a cold. You suffer only because you chose to sometime — and still choose it over the alternatives. It's like alcoholics. They first chose to drink and only later became addicted. Now they can't stop themselves without terrific effort and outside help. They chose the poison that's slowly destroying them. If you're a workaholic, so did you.

Unlike alcoholism, the cure for being a workaholic isn't total abstinence from work; just a sensible balance between work and everything else in life. But you'll likely still experience "cold turkey" as you break out of the addiction. That's just how it is. But it'll still beat life as an unreformed workaholic.

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