Workaholics anonymous

5 ways your work ethic is working against you

Whenever a person is consumed by any one thing, and that “thing” satisfies at least three of their six human needs, it becomes an addiction. Addictions are behaviors that mask pain, stress and feelings of low self-esteem, and they don’t just apply to illegal substances. Addiction can apply to everything – even work.

Those who work too much to deal with other issues in their lives are called workaholics. Workaholics are often seen as busy entrepreneurs or successful leaders, but it’s important to realize the distinction. A workaholic is not someone who is just expressing a certain type of working style – it’s an individual who is damaging his or her health and relationships and needs to get help.

What is a workaholic?

The modern workaholic definition is a person who works compulsively and for abnormally long hours. A workaholic has a life that is out of balance as work takes priority over everything else and many workaholics have poor physical and/or emotional health due to their obsession. They can rarely create or sustain a healthy relationship and many develop problems with anxiety or depression.

There’s a reason that there is an organization, Workaholics Anonymous, that treats workaholism as if it were a substance addiction. The consensus is that workaholism, just like any other addiction, is the direct result of some other issue that has never been confronted – it’s a coping mechanism that can quickly become an addiction to perfection. Workaholics don’t understand that the key to happiness is not about perfection, it’s about progress. They think if they can just be successful enough, make enough money or become a pillar of the community, they’ll finally feel fulfilled.

Unfortunately, no matter how much they achieve, this is never the case.

Are you a workaholic?

Some may find it difficult to tell the difference between working long hours and loving what they do and having workaholic tendencies. Here are some signs that you likely have a problem with workaholism:

  • You have an inability to delegate work and tend to micromanage. 
  • You constantly try to incorporate other parts of your life into work, such as turning a past-time into a career or getting family members involved in the business. 
  • You find yourself continually thinking about work while on vacation or spending time with your family or friends. 
  • You begin to feel nervous or anxious if you’re away from the office for more than a day or two. 
  • You eat most of your meals at your desk so you can continue working. 
  • You’re regularly the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave.

If you’re a workaholic, it doesn’t just affect you; it negatively impacts the lives of your family and friends. Losing yourself in work leaves no room for anyone else in your life. Family time is easily forgotten, and everyone must adjust to your schedule. Relationships start to crumble and even your physical health can begin to suffer. This is when the workaholic has truly gotten out of control and programs like Workaholics Anonymous become necessary.

It’s easy to think of workaholism as a “good” addiction because it appears that you are getting so much more done. But the truth is, you are not any more productive than any other hard worker – in fact, you’re less productive. This is especially true if you continually find yourself multi-tasking to get everything completed. Here are some of the ways workaholics suffer at the office:

Stifled creativity

Robots, by default, are not very creative – and neither are people who work incessantly. The problem is, working like a machine stifles imagination and your creativity. Because workaholics are really just pushing themselves to stay ahead of what they are truly afraid of, they never realize their full potential. Connecting to work on a deep level that aligns with values is the best advice for workaholics who want to be creative – and it will also be much easier on your work-life balance.

Cycling through mistakes and corrections

When staring at the same piece of work for hours on end, it’s easy to start seeing double –and harder to catch mistakes. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back to see what’s really in front of you. But a workaholic won’t do that. Their mind tirelessly plows forward, errors and all. The problem is, eventually those errors need to be corrected, and that’s how time gets wasted. Productivity is not the same as being busy. Many workaholics confuse the two and believe that as long as they are filling long hours with work – even if that work is correcting mistakes they’ve made – they are productive members of their organization.

Negative mood

Never-ending to-do lists are stressful. The endless cycle of working just to work won’t bring joy to your life, and the end result is unhappiness. If you’re a workaholic, you don’t own your time – your time owns you. You lose the opportunity to learn, grow and find out what holds true meaning for you.

When you don’t have anything else to look forward to but work, how can you be happy? The simple truth is, you can’t. Not only are workaholics less happy, but they also make those around them less happy because they are harder to work with and have weaker relationships with colleagues.

Losing money in productivity

A workaholic is more prone to fall into some of the biggest time-suck traps at work because they can’t say no and often use their time unwisely. Workaholics also tend to miss more days of work than “hard workers.” Even when they are in the office, their efficiency levels are often lower. In fact, it’s reported that employers lose approximately 160 billion per year in productivity from workaholic employees. Workaholics tend to think they are being more productive than their more balanced counterparts, but the opposite is actually true.

Decline in health

The minds of those who need to check out workaholics anonymous may want to go non-stop but the human body cannot. Workaholics are reported to have more cases of burnout, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart problems. Their high-stress, unbalanced lifestyles also make them age faster as they are less likely to follow a sustainable health diet and get enough exercise. When it comes down to it, workaholism can actually be just as or even more damaging to your health as other deadly addictions.

Advice for workaholics

Are you feeling unhappy at work? Struggling to find fulfillment in your career? Do you feel that even though you’re putting in long hours, you’re still not on the right path to success? One of the best pieces of advice for workaholics who recognize they have a problem is to get professional help. Depending on the level of your addiction, this help could come in the form of a life or business coach, a therapist or a career counselor. A professional can help you determine if you’re in the wrong line of work, if you have an addictive personality that needs to be addressed or if you’re filling your time with work tasks to avoid other emotions. They can also help you create healthier habits based on empowering beliefs that incorporate every aspect of your life.

Are you a workaholic? If the answer is yes, now is the time to make a change. As you decide whether or not you are willing to solve your workaholic habits, think about this: why do you do it in the first place? What internal need are you trying to fulfill? That is the bigger picture, and only when you figure that out can you start recovering from your workaholism and achieve an extraordinary life.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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