In our funny old world, these days being labelled a ‘workaholic’ seems almost to be a badge of honour – especially onboard some yachts. But like any addiction, there is a downside to the buzz which could actually be costing you more than you think.
So how do you know if you are a workaholic, or just someone who’s really motivated and dedicated to their job? The answer is, there is a clear distinction between enthusiastic, energetic work to achieve clear goals, and workaholism – and the key to understanding the difference lies in the emotional quality of the hours spent.
Workaholism has a treadmill, joyless quality, not the bouncy, fun energy of a trampoline. The adrenaline of the workload is often tinged with the heavy gloom of guilt, and while working long, hard hours may help you accomplish a primary work goal, it is very likely to leave other areas of your life such as family, friendship, social life, etc in a shambles.
Julia Cameron says in her book, The Artist’s Way, “Workaholism is an addiction, and like all addictions, it blocks creative energy.” And the problem with this is that creative energy is what is needed to take you from good to great: both in your career and in your personal life.
To find out whether you are suffering from workaholism, take this quiz, adapted from Julia Cameron’s book, to help you figure out if you have workaholic habits. Even better, ask a few members of your crew, your family or friends, to answer these questions for you. You may be surprised by what you discover.
1. I consistently work beyond normal working hours.
2. I voluntarily cancel dates with friends or family members to do more work.
3. I postpone personal outings until my deadline project is done.
4. I voluntarily take work with me on holidays.
5. I voluntarily take my laptop with me on holidays.
6. I voluntarily take work home with me on weekends.
7. I rarely or never take holidays.
8. My family and/or friends complain that I always work.
9. I seldom allow myself free time between projects and often overlap them.
10. It’s a challenge for me to finish tasks.
11. Procrastination often keeps me working longer.
12. I set out to do one job and start on three more at the same time.
13. I work in the evenings during downtime, or time I could be spending in a non-work related way.
14. I allow calls and email to interrupt—and lengthen—my workday.
15. I don't make time for creative work/or fun a priority in my day.
16. Work always comes before my personal projects.
17. I always answer calls on my mobile; I never switch it off.
18. I rarely allow myself downtime to do nothing.
19. I use the word “deadline” to describe and rationalise my workload.
20. I rarely allow any buffer time between activities or projects and operate in a constant state of feeling pressured.
If you answered true more often than false, you might want to take a look at exploring your attachment to work. The thing is, for people with workaholic tendencies, work is often synonymous with self worth, so the more they work, the better they feel about themselves.
Work can also be a way to avoid looking at issues in your life – keeping busy is a great way to put off addressing deeper questions. Some people become masters in the art of work-related avoidance tactics, blindly blundering on for years before the fallout of their workaholic habits finally comes crashing down on them in the form of ill health, relationship breakdowns or other unpleasant side effects.
So if this is you – it’s time to start weaning yourself off your work and start working more ‘F’ words into your daily life. That’s Fun, Friends, Family and … anything else you can think of that starts with F. (Cheeky!). Life is short, people. Work hard – but play harder.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. Seewww.thecrewcoach.com for more information.