I was a workaholic. I am a workaholic even now. Only difference between then and now is that I exercise control when I realise that I am close to burn out. While we blame our busy ambitious lives for workaholism, it is not your job which makes you a workaholic.
Your childhood determines that.
What did you do when you were bored as a child?
My childhood was majorly spent in the library poring over the hundreds of the books in the children section and reference section.
As an adult, I still need that constant intellectual stimulation, else I feel super bored and almost go into an existential crisis.
If you fended your boredom in childhood by engaging yourself in some kind of hobby or household work, you are more likely to be a workaholic as an adult.
How did you escape reality/stress in childhood?
Whenever I had relatives visiting home, I would run to the library and come back only after they were gone. I found people and conversations scary.
As an adult, I sometimes pick up challenging books or difficult projects (professional/personal) to take my mind off stress.
If you were into studying or building something seriously every time you felt stressed as a child, you might be doing the same today too.
What determines your self esteem?
A major part of my self-esteem comes from how knowledgeable I am. Back in school days, it was about being an all rounder. Now it is about building perspectives with my diverse knowledge in Machine Learning, analytics, psychology, spirituality, astrology, holistic health, meditation and occult studies.
As a child, if being an expert in a field was how you built your self-esteem, you would be doing the same today to help you keep your self esteem in balance which might move towards workaholism.
Common Reasons of Workaholism
1.Don’t have the perfect relationship? Workaholism is the new alcohol
What if I can’t have a happy relationship in life? I am so good at my work. No one takes that away from me. Everyone praises me and appreciates me. I feel so valued. My worth is so high.
2.Fear of missing out? Be a workaholic
Mr. Sharma is working on that high impact project. If I don’t work on it, I will miss out on the coolest project on my resume.
3.How will I build my skill set if I don’t be a workaholic?
I need to learn the latest techniques in the market. I should know it all. How can someone else be more knowledgeable than me?
4.I am not working enough for my pay
My company will go into losses if I don’t work hard. I am the only one who is saving money for my company and bringing it a lot of business.
5.I get respect only if I am a workaholic
Work so hard that people can’t ignore you. No meeting can happen without you because your input is mandatory.
6.What is my future if I stop being a workaholic?
I will have a bright future only if I am a workaholic.
7.Who am I if I am not a workaholic?
I am the work and work is I. I don’t have an identity if not for my work.
8.How will I earn a living if I don’t work for 14 hours a day?
Only workaholics get paid. Rest of them don’t get salaries.
While the above reasons are not good enough to be a workaholic, what is a good reason to be one?
You can be a workaholic as long as you love your work. But, you should not use your work to fill your needs to have a healthy relationship, healthy self esteem and balanced identity. Your work should provide you time to have a sound body. The day it fails any of the above you are chasing work for the wrong reasons.
You will never have enough money no matter how much you are earning. Yes, money is required for a comfortable living. Beyond which, your physical and mental health is where you reside even before the four walls of your home.
I was a workaholic and ended up with a lot of incurable diseases. That opened my eyes to being a choosy workaholic. I can’t imagine my life without the intellectual stimulation. At the same time, I chose to get it from my side projects and not a full time job where if I start overcommitting and overworking I don’t get to decide when to take a break many a time. I like the control I have over my life where I can choose when to stop.
You should enjoy your full time job while you are at it and limit it to a source of income and not make it a source of happiness. Don’t make it your soul and dedicate your health in exchange for the respect, thrill and money.
You are just a cog in the wheel!
If you are looking for motivation to stop being a workaholic, here is an article I wrote a few years back.
Happy getting out of workaholism!