BREAKING WORKAHOLISM IN THE U.S. — ONE HOUR AT A TIME (Part Two: The Solution)
In its predecessor, Part One (The Problem), I identified what workaholism looks and feels like in our culture, and three major components I believe continue to fuel the widespread grip it holds on millions of Americans.
So, how can we collectively come against this seeming epidemic?
As with most things, we need to start by being the change we wish to see.
If applicable, we can make an open admission (to ourselves and other people we trust) of our own tendency towards it, and sharing both knowledge and creative solutions that can help us to break the chains it has on us are also good methods.
As someone who personally is very task oriented and driven towards high achievement, one of the most helpful methods for myself to break workaholism is based on a simple philosophy I like to call “working with my workaholism.”
The first way I’m able to do this is to look head on at some of the facts surrounding “over-working” and how it’s actually NOT helping me to achieve at an optimal level. This makes the “high achievement and driven” part of me very confused and upset.
An article addressing workaholism in the U.S. reported how former NASA scientists conducted a study which found that people who take vacations experience an 82 percent increase in job performance upon their return, with longer vacations making more of an impact than short ones.
Their results also showed that working more than 60 hours a week will create a small productivity flurry at first, but will start to decline again after three or four weeks.
When I continue to see new information that appears credible, makes sense to me, and clearly points out how my long hours, weekends, and holidays worked are not getting me the optimal output I desire, it then becomes a bit easier to negotiate and work with my workaholism by being open to take more time off for leisure activities and focus more on other life areas as well.
This idea not only sounds more enjoyable to me, but it also provides comfort to my ‘work addict’ by showing it that by taking more breaks and time off, I will be even more productive — which is what I wanted in the first place.
Several years ago, I taught on this topic as part of a workshop to local small/medium sized business owners and other business professionals. One of the challenges I posed for the participants that week was to purposely “cancel” one work related activity during the week that requires at least one hour of their time, and replace it with something they enjoyed doing related to their overall health.
Being someone who aims to practice what I preach, I also took on the same challenge that week. Although it was very uncomfortable for me to cancel a work activity that week I thought was pretty important, I followed through; making sure I physically left my place of work and did something that required at least an hour.
Though I do remember it being extremely difficult to walk away, and intially found myself frequently thinking of what needed to get done during that time away for leisure activity, I do remember I was able to eventually settle down and enjoy what I was doing.
The biggest pay-off for me personally was noticing upon returning to work that day how much more refreshed I felt. It was also a powerful experience to see how the ‘world didn’t come to an end’ by me canceling that work activity I had initially planned.
Participants attending the workshop mentioned having similar experiences, and I recall the owner of the facility I was presenting at expressing how since our addressing some of these issues during my workshop series, she had begun to make more time for exercise and recreation in her weekly routine.
She reported that by making a few small adjustments in her weekly routine, she now had more energy for not only her work, but she found herself more energized and present in spending time with her children.
Regarding finding ways to work more efficiently and effectively, one of the best tips I have held onto and implemented over the years has been from Jonathan Fields book “Uncertainty.” The whole book is fantastic, and in one particular section, Fields discusses the research and benefits of taking “work bursts” of roughly 45 or 90 minutes throughout the day, with breaks and recharging in between, versus working for hours and hours straight through to our own point of diminishing return.
I’ve personally implemented this strategy and have found that when I can stay consistent with it throughout the week, it’s significantly more effective, and more importantly, I feel more energetic and less “run down.”
Tim Ferriss’s “The Four Hour Work Week” has also been a very useful book to me over the years addressing this area.
I’m confident there are many other wonderful books on these topics, and one simple goal can be to search out books on the subject, pick one that sounds interesting to you, (actually read it), and begin applying some of its recommendations.
The other challenge or intention I put out to the group in the workshop on workaholism and self-identity was to actively seek to use some of their talents/strengths to non-work related areas of their life throughout the week. Some of the ideas I presented were volunteering, helping a friend, engaging in a hobby, doing something creative just for fun, and thinking of ways they could even apply their talents and strengths in their relationships with their spouse and children.
Personally, I believe that the more we can learn to see how our own innate talents, gifts, and skills can be transitional, and not just exclusively used in work environments, the less we will be so attached to our own worth and identity exclusively as it pertains to work.
If we can learn to integrate this shift into all aspects of our lives, we will see more clearly how many areas of life — (work, family, friends, hobbies, etc.) are much more connected than we thought, specifically as it pertains to us contributing our gifts, experience, and strengths.
We will find the grips and chains of a “one-dimensional” life of working around the clock begin to loosen, and a new spring of wholeness and wellness begin to take its place. And we can being to experience this powerful transformation — one hour at a time.
As featured on LinkedIn, Recruiter.com,WorkitDaily,Human Talent Network, and KTLA Los Angeles Channel 5 morning news as an expert on Career Transition and Optimizing LinkedIn: Scott Engler, author of “The Job Inner-View,” and “Legends of the Recruiting and Career World,” has spent years utilizing, researching, and collaborating with the top LinkedIn experts and ambassadors on how to optimize LinkedIn for professional networking and career development.
In 2016, Scott was selected by the staff at LinkedIn as a thought leader and industry expert for their new “LinkedIn ProFinder” feature on the site and was selected as a keynote speaker at a professional development conference in Eugene, Oregon.
Scott loves working with high achieving and “contribution-focused” female leaders who already own or run a successful business that now want to take things to the next level and go from making a more local to global impact.
For inquiries regarding business opportunities to hire him on as a public speaker or workshop facilitator on topics such as “Breaking Workaholism,” “Aligning Your Talents & Strengths With Your Passion and Purpose,” “LinkedIn Professional Branding,” & “Becoming a LinkedIn Networking Rockstar,” you can connect with him on LinkedIn at or email him at BuildingYourOwnBrand@gmail.com