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Work to live, don’t live to work.

Workaholics are addicted to activity; super achievers are committed to results, Charles Garfield



What is a workaholic? It is a person who is addicted to work. More specifically, work has become the centre of their life and they are ready to sacrifice everything, wife, children, family, friends, even their own health and life.

The classic profile of a workaholic is of a man, in his thirties or forties, belonging to the upper middle class, who is highly competitive, very ambitious, individualistic, and perfectionist.

How can we notice it? Here are some ideas:

Constant concern or even obsession for academic achievement or job performance, over-commitment, and involvement. They work hard and long hours, more than 40 hours a week; for example, they are always the last to leave the office and they tend to go the extra mile. They are in constant communication with superiors or clients. They allow work to take top priority over all else, they never stop thinking about their jobs, about how things could be improved, about getting more clients, etc.



They often sacrifice sleep and holidays for their jobs. They struggle to rest and relax, and regularly take their work home with them. Funny enough, they become tired, exhausted, and their performance declines over time. They also suffer serious health problems, such as burnouts, anxiety, stress, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, disabling back pain, hypertension, and cancer.

They are willing to take on any extra task but struggle to delegate projects and tasks. They are always on a tight schedule. They are highly competitive because success and self-realization are measured by a single paradigm: their career. They neglect their family and friends, so many get divorced, and find themselves alone and cut off from everyone they care about.

Note that, in most cases, the first ones to recognize the problem are his/her relatives. They realize that workaholics are unable to reconcile work and family life.

Are you a workaholic? What can you do about it?

  1. Recognise that you have a problem.
  2. Identify and solve underlying problems, for example, are you looking to fill your time because you feel empty without clear meaning or purpose, suffer anxiety or depression, low self-esteem, unsatisfactory romantic relationships, etc.?
  3. Understand that life is much more than a job. You are a multidimensional being, you need to create meaningful friendships and relationships, enjoy life with leisure and physical activities, good food, and the company of your loved ones, search for a a spiritual and fulfilling life, practice some hobbies, help others and try to make the world a better place, do some charitable work, etc.
  4. Learn to balance your work and personal life, set limits on the number of hours and attention you devote to your job.
  5. Learn to prioritise tasks, not every single task is urgent and important.
  6. Learn to rest, relax, and recover.
  7. Listen to your family and friends, and ask for help. In some cases you may need to request the services of professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, etc.
  8. Cut down your to-do list. Eliminate or delegate unimportant tasks and replace them with value-added ones. Set a working pace that is suitable for your body and mind. Don’t work under so much pressure. It is normal to experience some stress, specially with milestones, delivery dates, unexpected meetings, etc. However, if you want to work efficiently and successfully, avoid putting yourself under too much pressure, at least, not all the time.
  9. Set time apart for your family and friends. Disconnect when you are with them, forget about your job and enjoy their company. Avoid calling, taking calls, messaging or emailing after work hours.
  10. Change your lifestyle: sleep more, avoid alcohol, caffeine and drugs, take some holidays, practice exercise and outdoor activities, learn relaxation techniques…
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