There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving what you do for a living. And it’s wonderful to get carried away by your profession – to lose yourself in your work. However, when this hard work stops being fun, when it creates problems for you or causes you to suffer in some way, it’s a different story. If you’re working so hard it hurts, you have a problem on your hands. And it might not be as easy as it seems to slow down. Work patterns and routines can be tough to change, especially if you’re a workaholic. Here are a few tips for starting to turn things around:
1. Unpack your programming
Our modern culture of overwork really gets it twisted. Society has somehow decided that working long, punishing hours is a good thing. Our culture can make you feel that being super busy is a sign of success. However, the irony is that we’ve known for decades that overwork diminishes productivity and creativity. Balance helps us to thrive – both in and outside of the workplace. So take a step back and examine your own subconscious beliefs about work. Your programming, from society, your parents and your peers, is worth questioning.Society has somehow decided that working long, punishing hours is a good thing, and that being super busy is a sign of success. The irony is that we’ve known for decades it's not true; it's balance that helps us to thrive.Click To Tweet
2. Recognize that this isn’t healthy or fun
Workaholism is not the same as loving your job. Workaholism hurts. It’s a lot like perfectionism that way. If you enjoy lining up your socks just so, it’s not a problem. But if you obsess about needing them to be absolutely perfect, and you’re upset when they aren’t, it is. Perfectionism isn’t actually a good thing, and neither is workaholism. If you’re truly a workaholic, it’s neither enjoyable nor good for you. Recognizing that is an important step.
“Workaholism is not defined by hours. It’s defined by what’s going on inside of us,” Bryan Robinson, a psychotherapist who has researched the effects of work addiction told BBC. “A workaholic is someone who’s on the ski slopes dreaming about being back at work. A healthy worker is at work, dreaming about being on the ski slopes.”Workaholism is not the same as loving your job. Workaholism hurts. “A workaholic is someone who’s on the ski slopes dreaming about being back at work. A healthy worker is at work, dreaming about being on the ski slopes.”Click To Tweet
3. Redefine your goals
One great way to combat workaholism is to set realistic goals. Did you set some really lofty goals for yourself at the beginning of your career? Do you still think about them and worry about achieving them? Even if you’re very successful, you can be disappointed and stressed by your current situation if you have a bar that’s set crazy high.
Maybe you’re a chef who runs a successful restaurant, but you still feel stressed because you decided twenty years ago that you wanted to earn at least three Michelin stars. There’s nothing wrong with ambition. It’s just that thinking in this way does much more harm than good.
So take a fresh look at your career and your goals. Pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come, and work on setting some realistic and achievable shorter-term goals. The satisfaction of achieving them will help propel you to the next step.
4. Consider the professional benefits
You might worry that pulling back from work will hurt your career. Here’s the thing though – the opposite might actually be true. For example, it’s been proven that vacations make you more productive and creative. Similarly, having a balanced and fulfilling life is good for your health and your mood. These things are valuable in and of themselves. But it might help the workaholic to know that finding balance between the personal and professional can do wonders for your career.You might worry that pulling back from work will hurt your career. Here’s the thing though – the opposite might actually be true. For example, it’s been proven that vacations make you more productive and creative.Click To Tweet
5. Focus on setting a good example
Once you’ve come to a better understanding of why working obsessively is harmful, you might find you have a desire to spread the word. The best way to help others is often through setting a good example. You can lead the way by demonstrating to others, both at work and at home, what good work-life balance looks like. Your family, especially your children, will benefit from your example. Also, when you take time-off at work, it encourages others to do the same. Coworkers and those who work under you will likely follow your lead. This will help everyone at work to be happier, more engaged and more productive, which will lighten your own workload in turn.
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