Monday, March 24, 2008


You know who you are: You take your cell phone to bed, work every weekend, and never seem to have time to relax. You think about work constantly and give it priority right up there with your family and kids. You may be a workaholic. (i take my cell phone to bed so does that make me a workaholic?)
In the United States, where hard work and long hours are considered essential for success, it's not surprising that workaholism can be perceived as an asset, rather than the true addiction it actually is.
As Sid Kirchheimer writes on the website WebMD, "Workaholism is the respectable addiction." Kirchheimer goes on to explain that, in Japan, workaholism is called "karoshi" or "death by overwork."
He also points out that in the Netherlands, people are actually getting sick by trying to stop working -- a phenomenon called "leisure illness." Workers there are apparently so conditioned to overwork that, on weekends and vacations, they actually become ill from trying -- without success -- to relax and unwind.

The Futile Cycle
Workaholics typically continue to work past the point of exhaustion, causing them to make mistakes and work even harder to fix them. They also find that when they get where they were so driven to be, there is often nothing there. This leads to a chronic cycle of obsessive goal-chasing which, in reality, is much like the hamster running on the wheel -- frenetic movement that leads to nowhere.
Recognizing that workaholism is a compulsive behavioral disorder is the first step in helping a person realize that their lifestyle is out of balance and poses serious health risks.
Typically, workaholism is fueled by underlying issues which can include perfectionism, an unmet need for control, fear, and low self-esteem. Frequently the workaholic will work to avoid other issues, and this avoidance becomes a behavioral pattern that becomes very difficult to break.

Steps You Can Take
Like any addiction, workaholism should be treated with a multi-prong approach that may include counseling, behavior modification, hypnotherapy, lifestyle changes, and family intervention. Some tips for getting a handle on workaholism:
1. Get the support you need.
Counseling will help you focus on the big picture and shift your energy from work to rest, relaxation, wellness, and recreation.
2. Schedule non-cancelable leisure activities.
Put your workouts, movie nights, and other leisure activities in your calendar and consider them appointments, just like you would with a client or customer.
3. Get to the source of the underlying issue.
Could anxiety or a lack of confidence be driving you to prove something to yourself or others? Low self-esteem and the need to overachieve are often at the core.
4. Set boundaries.
Leave work at 5 p.m. and leave your work at the office. This requires focused self-discipline; a coach or colleague who will hold you accountable may be helpful.
5. Learn to delegate.
Most workaholics believe they are the only ones who can do the job right (perfectionism). Learning to let go and eliminating the need for control are two powerful strategies to set yourself free from the dysfunction of workaholism.
For more information, visit Workaholics Anonymous at

Debra Davenport, PhD, is an Executive Professional Mentor, career expert and the president of DavenportFolio, a licensed firm with offices in Phoenix and Los Angeles that mentors entrepreneurs and professionals. She is the creator of the Certified Professional Mentor designation. Contact Debra at (480) 348-7875 or

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Twenty Questions: How Do I Know If I'm A Workaholic?
1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
2. Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can't?
3. Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
4. Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
5. Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
6. Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
7. Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
8. Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
9. Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won't otherwise get done?
10. Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
11. Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
12. Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
13. Are you afraid that if you don't work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
14. Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
15. Do you do things energetically and competitively including play?
16. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
17. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
18. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
19. Do you work or read during meals?
20. Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?
If you answer "yes" to three or more of these questions you may be a workaholic. Relax. You are not alone.
'copy & paste'-ed from;

i answer 'yes' to xxx of those questions!
xxx= 0

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