Are You a Workaholic?

Though not officially a psychological disorder, workaholism is recognized as a compulsive behavior. Even in today’s fast-paced workplace, there’s a real difference between the conscientious employee who sometimes burns the midnight oil and the driven individual who never lets up.

Workaholics typically rationalize taking on more and more work for a variety of reasons, including pressure to earn money, get promoted, or please a superior. According to experts, workaholics find personal relationships stressful and are more easily angered than others.  

They are also more likely to make themselves sick.

The International Labor Organization estimates that health problems related to work stress cost employers worldwide more than $200 billion a year, and the World Health Organization reports that about 75 percent of people who seek psychiatric help have symptoms that relate either to lack of job satisfaction or the inability to relax.

Self-Test: Do You Have Workaholic Tendencies?

Read the following statements, and respond with true or false.

1.  I rarely, if ever, dream about work.

2.  I almost never work more than 40 hours a week.

3.  Hobbies are an integral part of my life.

4.  I rarely check my e-mail and voice mail while on vacation. 

5.  Missing important social events for work is usually unthinkable.

6.  My work habits are not a problem for my family.

Count the number of times you answered false.

One or Less 

Congratulations! You’re a balanced person who likes pleasure and gets satisfaction from many aspects of your life. Keep up the good work!

Two or more 

You probably push yourself too hard, and some might call you a workaholic. You need to get serious about making better use of your time or you could pay the price of poor health and strained relationships.

From distress to de-stress

For better or worse, work is a huge part of our lives. But that doesn’t mean overtime is obligatory. Most people who work too much wouldn’t have to sacrifice a single necessity to cut back on their hours. As always, though, wanting to change and changing are two different things. The following pointers can help you get your life back on track.

Know your goals
Some people never stop to question why they’re doing the job they do. To what end are you working so hard? Are you on the career track you really want? If not, what do you want to be doing and how can you make it possible? One study of 8,000 people found thatan essential key to human happiness is loving your everyday profession. Do you love what you do?

Slow down
Force yourself to reclaim your personal life. Schedule dates with your friends and partner or spouse. Call family members just to say a quick hello or share an idea during the middle of the day. Plan social outings in advance and treat those commitments as seriously as you would a business meeting.

Use visual cues
Keep a picture of someone you love in your wallet and on your desk. These can provide an instant “reality check” and help you relax in moments of stress.

Start an accomplishment journal

At the end of each day, jot down one thing that you feel good about having accomplished at your job and one thing you feel good about having done for yourself or with friends or family. Reading this diary can help you figure out what is making you happy and what isn’t. The patterns you discover will help you make better decisions in the future.

Get help

Overwork that never ends can be serious stuff-a matter of life and death in some cases. So, if you have a hard time taking these steps on your own, seek help from a counselor, psychotherapist, or your company’s employee assistance program. Or contact Workaholics Anonymous. Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, it’s designed to help people stop working compulsively. The program includes regular discussion meetings and emphasizes scheduling time for play and relaxation.