Advertising
Advertising

10 Signs You Are A Workaholic But Not A High Performer

10 Signs You Are A Workaholic But Not A High Performer

According to “Psychology Today”, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. That’s a lot of meeting for meetings to schedule your next meeting. I feel your pain too.

The truth is, we will spend A LOT of time at work. And unfortunately, not all companies have the culture or progressive mindset to create work-life balance within the workplace. According to the Quality of Working Life Report, 25% of employees say work is their main source of stress and 40% say their job is “very or extremely stressful.”

But the key here is to not wait for your company to create balance in your work life. Instead, you have the opportunity to take charge!

Because we all know stress + unhappiness + workaholic tendencies = low performer.

Don’t let this happen to you! Here are 10 signs you are a workaholic but not a high performer.

Advertising

1. You chase feverishly after nothing.

One of the most common signs you are a workaholic but not a high performer is that you work like a dog — long days, long weeks, long projects that seemingly focus on nothing tangible. It’s like watching a dog chase their tail.

High performing people are goal oriented, while workaholics are volume oriented. As in, “wow, look how much we accomplished” instead of “wow, look what we accomplished.”

As Henry David Thoreau put it, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

2. You never pull back on the throttle.

Go, go, go is your motto! Like life, energy is not infinite. However, workaholics will literally work themselves to exhaustion — and then try to work some more. High performers leverage awareness to know when to turn it up or down a notch.

3. You put everyone else’s needs before your own.

Don’t be a martyr. High performing people recognize and understand that it’s okay to put their needs in front of someone else from time to time because in doing so, they provide the best version of themselves.

Advertising

Workaholics, however, tend to be selfless in nature but in doing so often over-extend and create an unsustainable version of themselves.

4. You focus 100% of your energy on things you have absolutely no control over.

At the end of the day, time is really all we have in life. Unfortunately, workaholics will spend a majority of their time placing their energy into things they cannot control – income, outcomes, coworkers, etc.

High performers are naturally their own critical judges as they focus much of their time on their effort. They eat, breathe, and sleep the mantra “the best version of you.”

5. Your day is comprised of reacting to “things.”

When you walk into work every morning, do you go in with a game plan and build your day around the most important tasks, or do you let others dictate how your day will go? If it’s the latter, then you might be a workaholic. High performing people are the drivers of their schedule, workaholics sit shotgun.

Tony Robbins was once famously quoted asking the question, “How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I am committed to?”

Advertising

Perhaps you should ask yourself this question too.

6. You allow others to determine your worth.

This is a tricky one, especially for Millennials. Workaholics crave external validation – supervisors, colleagues, and friends. They just want some praise! Unfortunately this is a very similar characteristic of Millennials, as many were raised during the “and you get a trophy for breathing” era.

High performers, on the other hand, recognize their own self-worth and thus create feedback loops to continue to develop and grow professionally. Again, being proactive instead of reactive.

As the great Walt Disney said, “The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.”

7. You constantly find yourself unhappy with your results, even after obtaining a goal.

If you use the word “enough” in a negative connotation in your work life, you are probably a workaholic. This isn’t good enough, I am not good enough, and there isn’t enough time in the day – enough, enough, enough…enough!

Advertising

High performing people value and recognize the margin needed for success regardless of whether it’s a little or a lot.

8. You become judgmental of your colleague’s work ethic.

Workaholics obviously put in a lot of extra hours at work “to get the job done.” However, in doing so, many often become judgmental of their counterparts, as they focus on quantity and not quality.

A high performer’s number one goal is to do business – and recognize that business will come in waves. A workaholic’s number one goal is to be busy, and if they feel other people aren’t “busy,” then they aren’t putting in maximum effort.

9. You eat every meal at your desk.

The key is to work smarter, not harder. Workaholics tend to believe harder is smarter, and because of that they don’t see the value in intermittent periods of renewal in their days. High performers know the value of taking time for themselves throughout the day, especially when it comes to replenishing energy stores.

10. You work all the time and hardly ever get promoted.

When it came to your last review time, were you passed up on a promotion? Did your supervisor use phrases like “you definitely worked a lot” or “you get a lot done,” but then struggled to pinpoint specific, impactful achievements of yours?

If this sounds like your last review, then you may be a workaholic too. High performers will frequently get promoted – not only because of what they did, but what they can do moving forward. And you can’t be visionary and talk about what you “can do” if you are stuck in the weeds all of the time.

More by this author

10 Things All Highly Successful People Do 10 Signs You Are A Workaholic But Not A High Performer The 5 Things You Should Never Do in a Race

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next