Are You a Proud Workaholic?

Are you a proud workaholic? While a substance abuser may sheepishly admit to drinking more than they wanted to, most workaholics brag about their overconsumption. Workaholism is a money worshipping problem according to Klontz & Klontz (Mind Over Money). I used that term to describe myself this year to a friend, but I wasn't bragging. What exactly makes someone a workaholic?

This money issue is hard-wired into the American culture of MORE. If I just had more money, a bigger house, a flashier car, more expensive clothes, etc., etc., I'd be happier. Research shows that is not the truth. (See /7/13/11 blog: /blog/350/more-money-more-happiness) The belief that more will make us happy is an illusion that advertisers love to promote and our ego preens with to create a sense of self-worth.

Like any other addiction, workaholism, has an up side and a down side. The upside is that at work is where you shine - people appreciate your efforts, you may feel comfortable, successful, in charge, a part of things. (Klontz & Klontz) You may make lots of money and good for you, if there's some balance in your life also.

The downside? Strained relationships at home (if you're always working how can you feed or nurture your family relationships?) health concerns (chronic stress harms the body over time), a sense of emptiness, anxiety or boredom when not working. Though the workaholic may convince themselves they're working so hard for the good of the family, the family may not agree.

But, you may ask, lots of people are working 2 or 3 jobs at 50-60 hours a week, just to put food on the table. Are they workaholics? No. The difference is the motivation. The  person that's working like a maniac to survive would love to be able to spend more time with family, friends, on hobbies. The workaholic looks for ways to justify their work schedule.

Workaholism, like other addictions such as eating disorders, can be the result of growing up in a family that was perfectionistic and where nothing the child did was ever "good enough." I understand this one - the anxiety that comes from trying to prove oneself can be the invisible, unconscious driver. The solution? First identify there's a problem (and hint - if your family says your overworking is a problem - it is), then be willing to ask yourself these questions: What is it that drives you to work so hard? Who would you be if you weren't working? Is this work routine really working for you? What are you missing? What's the next step?