There are thousands of books on personal development: how to aim higher and fulfill your potential, how to succeed through hard work, how to never give up. The list goes on. But what happens when you fail to apply these rules to your life and you are only satisfied when you are busy? You are trapped in a 24/7 cycle of stressful work and struggle to get more from life.

Welcome to the new trend that has engulfed approximately 30% of the working population: workaholism! This phenomenon is described as the state of being addicted to work and your professional career.

Definitions given by psychologists, psychiatrists, or coaches in the field of work-addiction vary but all come to the same conclusion: it’s not just unbeneficial, but actually toxic. A recent study[1] estimating the prevalence of overworking, assumes that workaholism involves thinking about work, even during leisure time. There is no typical profile of the workaholic, but it seems to entail the same negative effects as any other addiction: sleep problems, weight gain, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

How do high performance and workaholism relate?

Well, they don’t. Workaholism is not about passion—it’s not even about making money. The driving force behind workaholism is a permanent conflict with yourself and a feeling of guilt if you are not working. You are never satisfied. There is always one more little task to do, one more detail to check and that’s what makes high performance impossible to achieve. Feeling depressed and not being able to detach from work leads to your brain under-functioning overall.

In Japan, workaholism is associated to karoshi, a term introduced in 1995 which describes death or serious circulatory system diseases caused by overworking (more than 65h/week for 4 weeks). A study regarding countries with the most workaholics placed Japan in first place, Australia in second and South Africa in third. The U.S.A was ranked 5th. It seems the workaholism virus evolves fast; if you feel any workaholism tendencies in your daily routine, take a step back and attempt to reflect.

How to Transform Your Busyness Into Productivity

By following these simple steps, your work performance can be improved while simultaneously keeping workaholism at bay. Your main aim should be to reconnect to your true self, enabling you to succeed in both your personal and professional life.

1. Face thyself.

This is the most important step to start with. Don’t mistake passion with addiction and don’t be afraid to analyse yourself objectively. Stop doubting yourself and your potential!

2. Set priorities.

Actions become habits. So set up and follow your priorities until they become second nature. Focus on your life values. Ask yourself what’s most important to you—family, health, peace of mind, money—and put it on a paper. Always keep that in mind and act accordingly.

3. Set healthy boundaries.

Saying yes can allow opportunities to arise, but sometimes saying no can lead to the right possibilities for you. Learn when to stop. Allow yourself to be flexible by converting your mindset from “only too much is enough” to “less is more.” Give work a break and embrace your need for human connection and physical activity.

4. Take a day off.

It’s time to see “leave your comfort zone” from a different perspective—by emptying your mind. Most workaholics have difficulty enjoying free time as they feel guilty for not working. What they don’t know is that productivity comes only when energy is handled properly. Choose quality over quantity and manage your stress and time wisely.

5. Be open to others’ ideas.

The “Looking-glass self” theory states that our self-image is shaped by what we believe others think of us. Sometimes, what we believe others think of us does not match up with their actual impression of us. This discrepancy can lead you in the wrong direction. That’s why we have to allow others to analyze our actions and to accept the advice and feedback provided. Talk to your family and friends about your goals, about your actions, and about your habits. Their answers might surprise you as well as have great benefits for your personal development.

6. Consider asking for professional help.

Overworking is not a new topic among professional coaches. Some of them associate this term with typical entrepreneurial behaviour. Various coaches share success stories on how they supported others fight against work-addiction or even their own journey to find a healthy balance. Learning from someone with a high level of expertise and integrity might be one of the best things to do. It is essential to choose the guidance which is right for you. Make sure your coach is professionally certified and trustworthy; a great coach will monitor your progress and empower you to develop professionally as well as and personally.

If you acknowledge that overworking has a negative impact on your career, take the matter seriously. Whether you consider asking for a professional coach’s help, or to follow the other aforementioned steps, start making a change. Make sure you’re on the right track to success by disowning unhealthy habits in your life. You’re in charge of your life!

Featured photo credit: Stokpic.com via stokpic.com

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