Why Being A “Workaholic” Is Not A Badge Of Honour By Coastal Coaching (Sussex) Limited founder Sarah Wilson

The term “workaholic” describes someone who is addicted to working hard. It’s more than working long hours; it’s an addiction to working hard to the detriment of yourself and/or others. 

According to Eric Edmeades, we need balance in every area of our lives, just as we need night and day, yin and yang. True happiness requires a number of different elements to be fulfilled. Work should be an element of your life, not the definition of it. 

Humans are reward-focussed, so we will not do anything unless we perceive it as being beneficial to us. Do you recognise any of these? You:

  • Have a “hard work” ethic. You’ve been taught that working hard is important particularly to deserve success
  • Genuinely get a buzz from working hard and pick working over other ways to spend your time
  • Feel being busy helps you feel successful 
  • Have continued to evidence that working feels good or better than other ways to spend your time
  • Feel like you know who you are when you are working
  • Believe if you work hard you will “earn your place”
  • Find working is more pleasurable for you than spending time alone

Despite these perceived benefits, there are many negatives, including:

  • Workaholism is an addiction – any addiction is unhealthy – even if the addiction is perceived as healthy e.g. exercise
  • Burnout and stress related illnessesbeing on alert constantly means you are never giving yourself an opportunity to reset. If you don’t choose a time to relax, it will choose you (usually when it’s inconvenient)
  • Physical pain and eye strain – blue light emitted from screens has a number of health implications. As do the positions we sit in, focussing on one specific thing for a prolonged period
  • Lack of efficiency – you are so busy “doing”, that there’s no time to consider whether you are executing the right actions
  • Challenging relationships – others want to spend time with you, but you can’t switch off and focus on them. They don’t feel a priority and the relationship becomes fractured
  • Deeper issues – e.g. you don’t want to spend time alone, you feel the need to prove yourself, you have fear around not achieving, things need to be perfect, you feel out of control. All these are detrimental to your success and happiness, indicating unresolved issues which require exploration

Coastal Coaching (Sussex) Limited founder Sarah Wilson shares her tips:

  • Self-assess – are you a workaholic who struggles to step away from work to enjoy other aspects of life or are you working long hours but able to reset each day by doing other things that bring fulfilment and balance? Are you genuinely happy with how you work and how many hours?
  • Happiness – score each area of your life and work out actions to increase your happiness, then embed them in your life. Make a list of what makes you happy (no matter how small)
  • Time block – block out downtime and things that make you happy in your diary and keep to it
  • Efficiency – find better ways of doing things. Could you outsource some things to save time? 
  • Accountability – it can help to have others to hold you accountable – you can choose anyone. You jointly agree new boundaries and they help you stay accountable
  • Use tools – look up strategies such as Pomodoro Technique and time matrixes. Even timing yourself can help you complete a task quicker
  • Hire a professional – coaches are there to help you work out what you want to change and help upick the behaviour. They keep you accountable when embedding new habits. Getting a professional to support you with this is the best way to make sustainable changes.

So, take off your badge of honour and make room for time freedom in your life. Explore the world, model to others a healthier way to live and make the most of this life you have. It’s a gift once – you understand how it works.

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