While you might set out to work harder, to be more productive, no one wants to be a workholic. Like a lot of nefarious habits, it sneaks up on you, until one day you have a health scare, or your partner sits you down for a serious talk. So, what can you do before it gets to this point? Along with recognising the signs, there are some proactive steps you can take.
When Inc. writer Geoffrey James suffered multiple heart attacks, requiring surgery for a sextuple bypass, it understandably forced him to take a step back a reassess his lifestyle. Everyone's situation is different, but James identified a few general points anyone can consider, if they feel like their work is overtaking everything else.
1. I've abandoned unrealistic goals. The root of much of my work-related stress was a deep-seated feeling that I wasn't living up to my potential because I hadn't fulfilled two goals I'd set for myself about twenty years ago.
James doesn't dismiss "shooting for the horizon" out of hand — being ambitious can be good. That said, don't kid yourself either by laying the stress on thick when you don't achieve those lofty goals as quickly as you'd like.
The term 'workaholism' has been around since the 1971 publication of Wayne Oates' book Confessions of a Workaholic. But, despite increasing research into the idea, there is still no single concept of this phenomenon. This is problematic for tackling the issue which, if classified as an addiction, should be treated as such.
This leads onto to James' second point:
2. I've redefined who I really am. ...For example, (and this is really embarrassing and I've never told anyone this) I used to have a little mantra: "I'm a famous author." I'd repeat this silently to myself hoping that if I convinced myself it was true, it would become true in the real world.
After the heart attack, I realized that I can't think of myself that way, not if I want to stay alive. Rather than try to be somebody I'm not, I have to accept the fact that, at best, I'm a moderately talented writer. And a reasonably good father, husband and friend.
He goes on to write that there's nothing wrong with accepting who you are. It's all about identifying stress points, ones you can deal with by changing how you think.
James has a lot more advice, so be sure to hit up his full article over at Inc.