Hard work, dedication and drive are celebrated qualities, especially in the workplace. But taken too far, these attributes can transform from well regarded to troublesome.
It’s 9 p.m., and you’ve been bent over your desk for hours. You haven’t even eaten dinner. Finally, you finish your project and breathe a sigh of relief.
At last you can relax and do something fun. But just as soon as you finish your project, you realize that rather than quitting for the night, you’d really feel more satisfied by just moving on to the next task on your work list. Whatever you used to consider “fun” just doesn’t seem interesting anymore.
If this sounds a bit like you, you may be developing the habits of a workaholic, offers Bob Rosner, author of The Boss’s Survival Guide and a consultant who helps businesses create a more engaged workplace. “It’s not healthy to be so single-focused,” Rosner cautions. “In order to do meaningful work,” he says, “you have to take part in a variety of activities outside of the office and let your brain get enough rest, so when you do come to work, you’re able to engage and be creative.”
It’s one thing to be a hard worker, but quite another to be so focused on work, you stop caring about anything else. Answer these questions to find out if you’re exhibiting the symptoms of workaholism, or if you’re on the brink of becoming a workaholic.
M. It depends on how sick I really am. If I can fake it and get through the day, I’ll go in. But even if I stay home, I’ll most likely work part of the day.
A. Go to work. I really can’t afford to skip a whole day, even if I’m sick.
B. I likely won’t even see the email because I won’t be checking.
M. I may notice the email and read part of it, but likely won’t respond until the next day.
M. I have hidden work occasionally, but not often.
A. I do this all the time.
M. Occasionally I tell my boss that I can’t take on a new request.
B. I have no problem being frank about my workload and my well-being.
M. My work will pop into my head once or twice, but it won’t necessarily be my focus unless I have a specific issue going on.
B. Rarely. I know how to put work aside and relax.
M. It depends. Occasionally I’m on my smartphone or reading work documents, but not always.
A. Check email or work materials.
M. I am somewhat satisfied, but it’s not too often that I allow myself to feel satisfied by my accomplishments.
B. I am mostly satisfied with my work and my accomplishments so far.
A. That’s just wrong. How can someone devalue work to put his or her personal goals first?
B. Great! I’m happy for the person and inspired by his or her achievements.
M. Sometimes affects my relationships, but it balances out because I’m able to keep commitments to loved ones when it counts.
B. Has little impact on my personal relationships.
M. You’re probably talking about something related to work, but it’s possible you’re discussing something else.
B. You could be talking about any number of things, including your family or hobbies.