Being a workaholic – A strength that isn’t a strength

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Have I mentioned how I always get my best blog ideas at my hairdresser’s? It’s a bargain basement of case studies at low, low prices. Take the gentleman who was sitting next to me last week: After several slightly angry phone calls to an assistant, he pulled out his laptop and began to type furiously. He only looked up twice – once when he told his son that he couldn’t play with him because he was busy working, and the second time when it was his turn in the chair. I paid particularly close to attention to one snippet of conversation he had with my hairdresser: “Oh you know me. I’m a total workaholic.” He seemed rather proud of that admission. He also looked harried, tired, and overworked.

There are some strengths that sound like they’re an asset, but when you put them into action, they are actually a disadvantage. Like the following:

  • “I’m a perfectionist.”
  • “I can multitask.”
  • “I am obedient and follow orders.” (When I hear someone say this, I always want to add, “and I sit on command.”)
  • “I’m willing to follow a leader.” (Rather than take initiative or take the lead).
  • “I’m a workaholic.”

Let me make something clear: Working overtime? Admirable. Taking work home? Dedicated. Doing this every week without fail? Problematic. A person may very well love their job, but even desk-huggers and laptop-lovers need time off. And you know me – I always come armed…with statistics.

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Let’s start with some rather obvious ones:

  • 86% of workaholics push themselves to accomplish their goals.
  • 65% take work home with them.
  • 63% hate the idea of being considered an average performer.
  • 62% feel uneasy when they’re not doing something productive.
  • 52% eat on the run.
  • 76% of workaholics consider it essential to have a job position that is well-respected.

Now for some less obvious ones:

  • 46% find that their life is too stressful.
  • 73% have trouble unwinding at the end of the day.
  • 56% feel over-worked.
  • 64% feel like they don’t have enough time to accomplish their goals.
  • 73% get angry at themselves when they don’t finish everything they wanted to do.
  • 68% said that they can’t tolerate people who slow them down.
  • 68% compare themselves to others.
  • 67% feel like they’re constantly rushing to get somewhere.
  • 63% would rather deal with problems on their own than ask others for help.
  • 60% tend to be over competitive.
  • 60% are impatient.
  • 58% feel tense.
  • 49% have trouble falling asleep.
  • 47% overbook themselves.

So what does this mean for my workaholic case study from my hairdresser’s? Maybe he’ll end up as Employee of the Month. What is more likely, however, is that he’ll continue to have little time for family, friends, and relaxation. He’ll continue to work toward a goal that will only be achieved in the distant future, and after a build-up of resentment and frustration, his mind and body will say “That’s enough, Mr. Worky.” He’ll then end up on sick leave from total and complete burnout.

Work to live my friends, don’t live to work.

Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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