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A Practical Guide for Being a Healthy Workaholic

By Alyssa Gregory

workaholicThe term “workaholic” has a negative connotation because it implies compulsive behavior and addiction to work, but I think it’s one of those words that can go either way. You can be a workaholic who loses all perspective and focuses only on work to the detriment of all other aspects of your life. Or, you can be a workaholic who turns your drive and dedication into a healthy devotion to your business.

No matter how much you love what you do, it’s pretty safe to say that you probably prefer to fall into the second category. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. The trick is figuring out what separates the two extremes and taking specific actions to maintain a balanced work life, becoming more of a committed professional than an obsessed worker.

Are You a Workaholic?

First, let’s figure out if you can be considered a workaholic by considering these questions:

  • Do you frequently work long hours, including weekends and holidays?
  • Have you sacrificed aspects of your personal life for your business?
  • Do you hesitate to take long vacations and when you do find that you’re tethered to your BlackBerry?
  • Do you think about work when you’re not in front of your computer?
  • Do you often miss out on personal events because of work (and then feel guilty because of it)?

If you answered yes to even one of the questions above, you’re probably at least a borderline workaholic. But even if you tend to fall into the tunnel-vision-workaholic category at times, the good news is that you can change that. All it takes is a change in perspective and a shuffling of priorities.

Being a Workholic vs. Being Driven

The negativity around the word “workaholic” is often inaccurately used to describe someone who simply loves the work that they do and prefers work to many other activities. There’s nothing wrong with being dedicated to your work and enjoying it immensely. Some of us simply have an internal drive that causes us to work frequently, work hard and be willing to make sacrifices to reach our goals. This can be good; this frequently results in success and achievement.

Problems arise, however, when you lose perspective by becoming so work-oriented that you let your drive dictate your entire life, have trouble taking necessary breaks, and your dedication begins to morph into over-attention.

How to Achieve a Workaholic’s Balance

It can be argued that a true work-life balance is not achievable, especially when it comes to a workaholic. But if you apply the focus and dedication you have for your work to your desire for equilibrium in all aspects of your life, you may be surprised how easy it is to develop a well-rounded lifestyle that centers on your happiness and the happiness of those around you.

Here’s how to start:

  • Write down your motivations – Why do you work so hard? What does your work do for you on a personal level? How does your work make you feel at the end of the day? What does success mean to you?
  • Honestly analyze your motivations – Is your work compensating for other areas in your life that are lacking? Are you comfortable with your motivations as they are? Do your motivations support your goals?
  • Describe your perfect balance – What would a typical day look like? How would your current work schedule change? What are your priorities?
  • Make a list of what you can do now – What immediate changes can you make in your life to get you closer to your perfect balance? What has to change in order to be true to your priorities?
  • Plan for the future – What are some longer-term changes you can work on implementing in your life? How will you remind yourself on a daily basis what your priorities are?

Just like everything else in life, moderation is vital when it comes to work. But there’s no reason why you can’t be a happy, healthy, and functioning “workaholic.”

Do you consider yourself a workaholic? What do you do to maintain a balance?

Image credit: bizior

  • MohanArun.com

    I consider myself a workaholic so What I do to maintain a balance is to practise strict timing when it comes to stopping work at the end of the day, say by 5.30 PM, I plan well ahead of time regarding the things that will be done during the day and the things that will be carried over to the next work day. I make it a point to take off on weekends.

  • estrahon

    Having an internet business, I can’t tell whether my addiction lies for my work or the internet in general, that feeling of being “connected”, yup I have a problem.

  • anthon

    I think also part of the reason of being an workaholic could be the feeling of being responsible of the tasks/jobs at hand. There always some better ways to do things and feeling oblige to better it. And that would result endless hours in the process.

  • http://www.manisharma.s4u.org phpsharma

    I think workaholics have too much continuous motivation towards final benefits?

  • hostingataleph

    Yes I work long hours, weekends, and holidays. Yes I do sacrifice areas of my personal life for work. And yes I do hesitate to take long vacations. Guess that makes me a workaholic, right? Wrong!

    I feel that the people around me should understand that business needs to be taken care of in order for there to be a healthy personal life, and in order for there to be a vacation to even speak of.

    Balance will come when those around me understand that work must be done, and completed. Then comes time for play!

    hostingataleph

  • Neil

    “My names Neil and I’m a workaholic”

    I find work really rewarding, it can be frustrating, but solving problems and delivering ‘things’ is something which drives my psyche. I’m a director of a business, and my background is in software development and as long as its demanding and challenging I’m happy.

    Whilst I’m a keen mountain biker and snowboarder I have to strive to make these things not ‘goal driven’ as there is something in me that wants to set and meet objectives and I agree that you need a break… but could I exist outside a demand time pressured work environment without going mad. I doubt it.

    Neil

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    Consider DaVinci – he worked for days on end without sleep; refused to see people or leave his studio for many months at a time; focused on his work to the complete exclusion of all else, even his own well-being.

    Yet he produced art, sculpture and designs for technologies that were literally centuries ahead of their time. It could be argued that he would not have been so prolific if he hadn’t been so obsessive.

    There’s nothing wrong with being obsessive – you only live once, so do what makes you happy and screw how it appears to others.

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