Our society places a lot of importance on drive, ambition and achievements at work. But when does a passion for work become work-obsession? Our happiness depends on us balancing out all aspects of our life, including work, recreation and relationships. Work becomes an issue when it is an all-consuming addiction. It may not even bring you happiness anymore and can become just as much of a problem as alcohol addiction or smoking with wide-reaching negative health and well-being implications.
It can be difficult to tell when dedication becomes work-obsession so here are a few of the signs to look out for.
Worth is measured by workplace achievements
Those of us who are work obsessed tend to measure our self-worth by our achievements in the workplace or other directly related things such as status or wealth. If you were asked to list your top ten achievements or moments of pride – how many of them would be work related and how many would involve family, friends or your activities outside of work?
Work weeks regularly exceed 40 hours
Workaholics will regularly work long days, putting in extra hours by choice. Some jobs do require longer hours but we all need time for ourselves too. If a person regularly stays late at work, goes in on days off or works extra from home, this is going to interfere with other priorities. Long work hours also leave very little time for relaxation and can lead to stress and other health issues.
When you put so much of yourself into work, there’s often very little left for other people. Work obsessives find that other relationships struggle. Relationships with spouses, friends or children may become more and more difficult. You may feel like you have little energy left for them or that you can no longer relate to them. This is especially true of those who work in very stressful jobs as it can become difficult to relate to another person’s priorities and daily life.
A dependant workaholic may not even enjoy their job anymore. Instead they may experience an urgent feeling to do more work and to please their managers and colleagues. A small moment of relief might come when that report is finished, but it’s never enough, and the next task is soon found. Other workaholics are addicted to the feeling of importance or recognition they get from work and may find it difficult to deal with the unstructured nature of the rest of their lives where meaning and objectives are often less clear.
Stress, anxiety and control issues
Those who work too much might find they struggle with stress, anxiety or control issues. This can lead to health problems and insomnia. If you constantly feel drained, exhausted or empty at the end of the day you may well be overworked.
Inability to detach
Work-obsessives are often thinking about work, even when they aren’t there, so they may seem detached or distracted. They may talk about work a lot and struggle to engage in other activities or discussion topics.
Whilst work can give structure and meaning to our lives, most people regret spending too much time at work later in life. If we don’t take the time to step back, relax and enjoy the things our hard work has given us, many would ask what the point is.
If you’re struggling with work addiction, stress or obsession or you’d like to explore what work gives you that the other areas of your life can’t, please do get in touch. I can help you find a new healthy relationship with work and to re-engage with other areas of your life to find a healthy work/life balance.