Workaholism: is it a life out of balance or a prerequisite of success in modern society?
A workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also imply that they simply feel compelled to do it.
I find it difficult to switch off to work, any kind of work. Just one more task, one more project, one more thing…
How about you?
Workaholism seems to be a trend on the increase among women today. And by the way, you do not have to be out at work to be a workaholic. Women in the home can hide behind work too.
Barbara Killinger, PhD says: “I defined a workaholic as a work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success. These driven men and women live a Gerbil-wheel, adrenalin-pumping existence rushing from plan A to B, narrowly-fixated on some ambitious goal or accomplishment. Eventually, nothing or no one else really matters.”
Workaholism May be a Symptom of a Deeper Problem.
It is a fact that workaholics are not more productive than non-workaholics, but they do burn out faster!
Loren Stein, M.A. says, “Here’s a rule of thumb: Can you enjoy life and feel energetic and purposeful when you’re not at work? If the answer is no, you may be in the danger zone. Since workaholics get high from the fix of deadlines, long hours, and single-minded focus on work, other parts of their lives tend to fall by the wayside.”
Perfectionism in the workplace or business is a need for control.
It is also a cover up.
Cover make up works for a while to cover blemishes and scars, but the advertising is hollow. When you remove it you see the imperfection highlighted all the more by the harsh light of reality.
Many women in the workplace are finding themselves prone to workaholism to prove themselves in a competitive marketplace or to be seen to be ‘good enough’ to break through the glass ceiling.
Ask yourself: What basic needs am I covering up with my workaholism and desire for perfection?
Workaholism will affect, and may even destroy your health, your family and your life!
The point is, we are called to many vocations (callings), the calling to family, the calling to workplace or business, the calling to church, the calling to community, etc.
To raise one calling above another and pour all one’s affections, attention and energies into only one calling is sinful. It is the sin of omission, which neglects the other callings God has given you in favor of the one that meets your needs or covers up your deep longings.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov 24:11-12, ESV).
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.(James 4:17, ESV).
According to these scriptures, if we know to do something good and do not do it, it is still sin.
I am sure you have heard the old saying that no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.
They always wish that they spent more time building family relationships.
Our capitalistic society and workplace is a black hole! It will suck you in if you allow it. It may even be the Burmuda triangle, just waiting to pull you in and not let go. We are greedy for more, and so the workplace is greedy for more of your time, your effort and expenditure.
God’s mission for us is to fulfil all of our callings, without feeling the pull of one over the other.
The emotional cover up versus the emotional exposure of relationship building that is needed in the home may be the reason why workaholics will spend their time willingly at the office at the expense of family time.
It is easy to hide one’s true self and mask one’s emotions under a pile of work!
Family will let you know they are unhappy with your workaholism through subtle whispers or perhaps loud shouts of discontent.
Do not lose your family due to this ungodly practice!
Listen out for the telltale signs in conversation with others close to you. At first the little signs will be there, but once they stop talking, you are in deeper trouble, leading to relationship breakdown:
- Behavioral problems with your kids-acting out, etc
- Inability to connect at an intimate level with your spouse
- Your spouse has stopped talking to you
- Breakdown of meaningful conversations with those close to you
- A constant nagging inside that this is not all there is
- A lack of desire to go home, as things there are ‘not good’
What is the difference between a hard worker and a work addict? The difference lies in the feeling of fulfillment. A hard worker will relish work and feel good about achieving goals and projects. A workaholic will do the work, but resent others who do not work as hard or as many hours. They feel that no one else works as hard as they do, and have an air of superiority that no one else can match up.
And therein lies the biggest problem.
No one can match up to this perfectionism in the form of workaholism!
Thus over time, the workaholic becomes isolated inside and outside. They feel a sense of alienation from the rest of the world. They isolate themselves from others even in the workplace, and are not the best people to have on your team.
Anger and fear are two really strong operative emotions in the life of the workaholic.
Fear in the workaholic of work being taken away, and anger in the family at the lack or loss of time and affection and attentiveness towards the family.
Researchers came up with the Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS) taken from tests for addictions. ‘If you have to admit that at least four of these statements sounds like you “often” or “always,” the researchers suggest you might want to stop laughing about your overwork and consider intervention.
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, or depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work but you don’t listen.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You de-prioritize hobbies, leisure activities, or exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively affected your health.’
There is nice quiz for you to take at 20-signs-you-might-be-a-workaholic-and-what-to-do-about-it.
The Results in Health Damage and Loss of Family Closeness
“A workaholic will die faster than an alcoholic any day,” says Diane Fassel, PhD, an organizational consultant in Boulder, Colorado, and author of Working Ourselves to Death.
Burnout, depression and serious health breakdowns are the price to pay for working ourselves ‘to death’.
What Should Family Members do?
Respectfully and non confrontationally approach your workaholic loved one. Tell them how what they are doing affects you. Use “I” not “you” language, and let them know how much you love them and want them to be close to you; how you understand they may find it difficult not to work all the time, but that you as a family need them too. They may not respond with favorable changes, but they have at least understood this to be behavior that needs attention.
What Should the Workaholic do?
You must confront this addiction head on. You are going to need to ask for help from someone else to see your life as you can’t see it, as work addiction and work dependency is a blind spot. See a counselor, pastor, therapist or coach, but deal with it you must, before it destroys your health, family and every other calling in your life.
Many people have said they needed to admit they are addicted to work, and seek help from an outside source to gain clarity on the way forward, as habits are difficult to change and default is close to the reset button.
I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s blog on workaholism.
Do you think workaholism is becoming a bigger problem amongst women leaders today? Why or why not?
Leave a comment on the blog or hit ‘reply’ to connect with me.