Are You A Workaholic?

Published: March 15, 2010
By: Faye Hollands

Way too many people complain that they’ve got too much work to do, and not enough time to do it.  Unfortunately these ‘symptoms’ have seen the number of workaholics over the years rise to an unhealthy level and it’s time for this trend to stop!

Working Hard Vs Workaholism

How many lunch hours have you spent checking email or returning phone calls in-between chomping on your chicken sandwich?  It’s estimated that up to 20% of people ALWAYS work through their lunch break, not to mention skip dinner because they’re at the office late or carry over vacation days instead of taking a break!

At a time when many employers are downsizing, and everyone’s looking for increased productivity, it’s true that the workplace is becoming more demanding.  However, there’s a distinct difference between working hard and being a workaholic.

Workaholism is defined as an unhealthy addiction to work, and it’s causes are very different from working long hours because the expectations and demands put on you are unreasonable.  In fact, you don’t need to be in a highly demanding job requiring long-hours to be a workaholic as the cause is often far more complex than too much work.

Workaholics have a tendency to build their sense of self worth and confidence through their work rather than from the outside world, and often have little job satisfaction but seek praise and approval through their work due to self-esteem issues.

Another reason why people find themselves addicted to work is that they feel their job is more ‘controllable’ than their personal life, especially if they have a difficult situation to deal with at home.

Studies show that workaholics tend to fall into three groups:-

1.  Activity Driven

This is where you’re driven, or obsessed, with ‘doing’ things at work for no other reason than to keep busy, rather than being stimulated by a task that’s productive.  So for example, this is when people work for the sake of working rather than because they need to achieve a particular goal or outcome.

2.  Let Off Steam

This is when people work hard in a bit to let off steam driven by anger and frustration, which can ultimately lead to a sense of stress and overwhelm as the underlying cause is not recognised or dealt with.

3.  Control

Finally, this relates to being obsessed with order and control, regardless of how effective or efficient you’re being. People in this group have a tendency to work endless hours, feeling overwhelmed and stressed, but pay little or no attention to the reason why they’re working hard,  Instead of evaluating their effectiveness they simply continue to focus on order and control.

I’m sure many people will relate to these symptoms, but for those of you wondering if you’re on the verge of being a workaholic or not here are some typical traits of a workaholic to get you thinking about your own approach to work:-

  • Work is the centre of your life and you have a tendency to continue talking and worrying about it when you get home
  • Work is your primary focus, to the detriment of your outside interests including family and friends
  • You are a perfectionist who stresses over the small details more than your team members
  • You are emotionally charged which often shows up through anger, crying, moodiness, insomnia and erratic behavior rather than logical responses
  • You are so caught up in your job that you don’t notice what’s going on around you personally and/or professionally

If some of these points hit home it’s time to consciously choose to create a more balance life for yourself, before your health and wellness begin to suffer.   Here are some simple yet effective ways to redefine your focus and attention:-

  1. Set limits on the hours you spend at work and the attention you devote to your job
  2. Confront your limiting beliefs and insecurities rather than ignoring them – talk to a Coach today
  3. Set aside quality time for your friends and family
  4. Exercise regularly and make your health and well-being a regular appointment in your diary
  5. Take up a new hobby or interest to allow you to focus on accomplishments outside of work

The important point to remember is that when we are well balanced – physically, mentally and emotionally – we are able to think more clearly, make more rational and constructive decisions and perform better in both our personal and professional lives.  All of these attributes help eliminate the reasons why people tend to find themselves on the slippery slope to workaholism.

Would you like to find out more about how coaching can help you manage your career and time smartly?  Book your free 30-minute coaching consultation now.  Simply click here to schedule your appointment.

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email

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