3 Ways to Combat Workaholism
No more hamster wheel.
Like a good hamster on its caged wheel, people get caught up in the never-ending “work-work-work” cycle.
There are different ways to look at what you do as a vocation. For instance, if you love your chosen profession, working probably will not feel like drudgery or pulling a wisdom tooth. Getting up and staying focused on it comes from a place of passion and commitment, which are positive traits.
Yet if you are in a job which is sucking the life out of you like Dracula, then it might feel lifeless and more of a chore. Add a spice of the “I have to keep working all the time” mindset, and you’ve set yourself up for some old-fashioned workaholic tendencies.
Overworking is not fun. From plenty of personal experience, I can guarantee you it’s no fun. A social life? Phfft. Getting together with friends? Really? “I have to w-o-r-k! Didn’t you get the memo, friend?”
There probably are times in your life where working one or two jobs in order to make ends meet matters. If one of those happens to be something which brings you a lot of joy, then it can even the scales a bit. But watch out … that old workaholic tape machine inside your head can get churning pretty quick.
Do you want to ease that chatter a little bit? I bet you do. Let me offer up three choices to consider when tackling the 24-hour/7-day-a-week workaholic path.
1. Plan your escape — Now maybe the job you have right now is pretty good. A lot of solid people, pleasant benefits, and even sprinkles of happiness appear now and then. Yet when it comes down to the bottom line (and to borrow from B.B. King’s legendary song), the thrill is gone. The glow and smiley faces have all turned dark and sour. Maybe it is time to plan an exit strategy. Take a real-time look at your personal and financial picture over a few days. Consider what your basic needs are in life and whether you have the dollars put away to cover things for a bit. If you can get by on the basics and leave the good-life extras (whatever that might be) off the table for a while, then activating your exit strategy could be the answer. It still, though, will not totally absolve your emotional and mental state from workaholic thoughts and obsessions.
2. Feel your emotions — OK, you’re about to fall over from exhaustion and cannot really put two or three coherent thoughts together. Your mind is running on caffeine, too much information, deadlines out the butt and that “let’s all take a deep breath” thing isn’t helping at all. Then it’s time to stop and feel what is going on inside yourself. I say this because something, either a bunch of thoughts or ancient information from your family or mentors, is causing a heck of a lot of inner pain and anguish over work. If someone asked you in the middle of a workaholic breakdown what you were feeling, would you be able to tell them? Would it be more like answering a question with a question? “How do you feel?” “Angry?” It is like you’re attempting to guess what the right friggin’ answer is to this question. Here’s the right answer: there is none. Disconnection with your own emotions will turn toxic and cause more harm than good. Get out a pen and paper, and start writing out what’s going on in your life. You don’t have to make it public, OK! Just start putting it all down. Avoid using your laptop, PC or cell phone to do this. Taking the time to actually write this stuff out has led too many people to having cathartic breakthroughs when facing their own work-related attitudes.
3. Get your own help — Breaking out of the constant workaholic tendencies can be some of the hardest work that you will ever do. I understand about working hard and needing to so in order to succeed. I work hard and I know millions of others do, too. Yet I choose to believe there can be a balance to it all. That is why I tell you to get your own help. Find those resources which can help you stop feeling so danged guilty, for example, when turning down overtime if you don’t have to work it. Sure, the extra money is good and if you need to do it in order to live better and pay bills … then I get it. Workaholic feelings and emotions always linger below the surface of shame, guilt or fear. These are the deep roots which run way down inside of us all and can kick our backside over and over again. “Work more, damn it!” we hear inside our heads. Getting help from an outside resource such as a therapist or even a group like Workaholics Anonymous can help break the chain of working insanity and find peace. If you need help in getting your own help, then one place to start might be your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you have one. Another point of contact is your city’s community health department or your own spiritual community. There is no shame in seeking help. None. Zero. Zip. Don’t let the voice of shame keep you from the help which you deserve.
There probably are 100 more ideas which could be considered when talking about workaholism. Just look at how much stress fills your body on a daily basis when working 12–16 hours or more per day. It’s nuts. Again, though, if you like what you do for work, then you’re on the happy trail of bliss. Workaholism is no laughing matter, though.
Take time to plan your escape, feel your emotions and get your own help. I also would suggest not taking any rash action until following at least one of these suggestions. Give yourself the gift of caring about you for a change, and not the time clock at work.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on October 24, 2016.