4 Signs you may be addicted to your work and how to break free

by Gary Gilles

workaholic verbiage_Fotolia_86016954_XSWork is good and acts as an important part of our lives. Most of us are thankful for the opportunity to work, earn a living and make some type of contribution to our family, our employer or to the welfare of others by what we do. But, it has become increasingly difficult to know where work starts and stops in the modern era to the extent that some of us never feel as though we are not working. Where is the line between being conscientious and responsible in our work and feeling a compulsive need to always be working or producing?

Here are 4 signs that you may be addicted to your work and how you can break free.

You have a need to stay busy

This is more than just having lots to do. If this trait fits, you tend to be in perpetual motion, always measuring your time by how much you accomplish. You fill your daily schedule so full that you don’t have any margin in your day to think, reflect or sort out the best choices from the many options available to you. It’s not uncommon for you to experience an “adrenaline high” from having a full agenda.

Breaking free: Realize that saying “no” to certain things is a good thing. To help you sort out the good from the best, make a list of the things you feel you need to accomplish on a given day. Then prioritize those items on your list by assessing which items or both important and urgent. Place a “1” next to the most important and urgent item, a “2” next to the second most important, etc. Make your goal for the next day to get through the top two or three items on your list versus your whole list. The goal is to be purposeful in what you do versus being in perpetual motion. This will be more satisfying and also give you some margin in your life to think and learn from the choices you make.

You need a lot of control

This control may extend both to people and circumstances. There is a tendency to over plan and over organize. You might feel discomfort in situations that you cannot effectively manage. Delegating tends to be difficult for you. The unconscious goal is to make conditions feel predictable and consistent, which inhibits spontaneity and flexibility. Some people might use the term “perfectionist” to describe you. You have unrealistic expectations for yourself and others and your greatest fear is to fail at what you attempt.

Breaking free: Learn to distinguish what you have control over and what you don’t and focus on letting go of those things that are beyond your control. Practice delegating tasks to others. When you feel out of control, pause and take several deep breaths to help center your mind and calm your body. Let yourself off the hook from having to do everything perfectly.

You value task over relationship

Accomplishment is often the organizing principle for any task, putting relationships in the distance. It’s not that you think relationships are unimportant, but the drive to accomplish the task communicates to others that work is more important. Thoughts and energy that could go into enhancing genuinely warm, meaningful relationships are spent “more productively” on tasks that can be more easily measured. Communication is merely a means of exchanging information, not about relating or having meaningful interaction.

Breaking free: Although there is satisfaction in accomplishing tasks, the contentment that comes from having meaningful relationships can be even more satisfying. But, you have to nurture those relationships in order to feel that emotional connection. Name the five most important people in your life and make time for them every week – even if it is just an hour.

You have difficulty relaxing and having fun

You are often restless and easily agitated. You find it hard to slow down and enjoy leisure time. Leisure time often feels unproductive. If you do take time away from work you are more likely to engage in passive entertainment versus active recreation or other pursuits.

Breaking free: Think of play, recreation and non-committed time as a productive way to spend your energy. It refreshes your perspective by allowing you to step back and gain more objectivity about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how you might approach it differently. You need that space and change of pace to see life in a new way.

Finding the work-life balance is not always easy but by exercising deliberate choices to better manage your work you are likely to feel more purposeful and satisfied with your life.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nancy gilles

I am pretty sure i fall into the workaholic catagory often!! What do you think? 🙂

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