The cost of workaholism

“What are your resolutions this year?” a girlfriend recently asked me. I thought about the areas of my life I'd like to improve upon and responded, “I'd like to work less. I think I'm a workaholic.”

She paused for a bit then hesitantly said, “that doesn't sound like a problem” And indeed, when I'd talked about this with my mom just a week earlier, she said, “That's a good addiction.”

But it's easy to confuse hard work with being a workaholic. We assume an “addiction to work” means being dedicated and thorough, which is good.

But then there's the part where I sneak off to the bathroom during a weekend trip to check my email, and then, for some reason, feel an odd rush.

In Japan, they call it karoshi. And you might already know that it's quite literally killing people. In the past, I've joked around about being addicted to my work, but I'm starting to realize it may be a more serious problem than I thought, and, most importantly, it's been costing me.

Working Hard vs. Being a Workaholic

It was a Psychology Today piece that got me seriously thinking about this subject. Author Ray Williams details how overworked Americans are. We work an average of 54 hours a week, and the percentage of us working more than 40 hours a week has been steadily increasing. Williams then points to the issue of workaholism:

“A contributing factor to the problem of workaholism is the prevailing belief in hard work as the route to success, particularly wealth.”

Bingo — that's me. There's certainly nothing wrong with hard work, but Williams doesn't seem to think a good American work ethic is responsible for these staggering statistics — it's more their addiction work, which he says stems from the desire to amass wealth.

It started out innocently enough, but I've gone from working hard to needing to work at all times — the weekend, dinner, vacation, etc. Working makes me feel safe and good, and it's gotten to the point that my brain equates a simple work task with sheer joy — a high. And that “prevailing belief” has been the premise for my high.

Example. I recently took a weekend trip with some friends. I decided to leave my laptop at home (there's still hope) and enjoy the house we'd rented overlooking a field of wineries. On Sunday, we were sipping mimosas outside when I decided to break out the iPad. Naturally, I looked at work stuff, and suddenly, I felt a wonderful surge. Even then, I knew it was odd. “Work should not be eliciting this sort of feeling,” I thought. Later, I read an article about how the workaholic's body releases Dopamine while working. Sure, it's a natural high, but it starts becoming an issue when work makes you feel better than anything else in your life, including vacation.

If you aren't a workaholic, this probably doesn't make sense to you. But based on the statistics, I'm not a rarity. Lots of us seem to be addicted to work.

How It Started

When I was working a regular office job, there were parameters. I put in 40 hours at a location separate from my home. In exchange, I received a set salary. Sure, I put in some extra hours here and there, but for the most part, I left work at work.

When I decided to freelance, things got tricky. Suddenly, I had more control over my income. I had control over how much or little I want to work, and I had control over where to work and to what extent I allow work to interfere with the rest of my life. This control sounds great, and it is — I love it. But it's been hard for me to set my own boundaries. Why?

I'm Scared

I've written about being a fear-based saver. I grew up poor, and I don't want to go back to that place. So it's hard for me to say, “no.” It's hard for me not to want to work as much as possible. I like being in control; the control I have over work makes me feel good. Dopamine-good. As long as I'm working, I feel like I'm in complete charge of my own financial destiny. And maybe I am, and that's great, but it's not healthy to be driven by fear. Plus, like the article pointed out, I've subscribed to the oversimplified idea that, the harder I work, the wealthier I will become — and there are repercussions for this.

Career Quality; Life Quality

Work isn't as much fun as it should be. I switched careers for a reason — because this is what's enjoyable to me. But lately I'm not enjoying it; I've commodified it. It's just not as much fun this way. They say it's not work if you're doing what you love. But if you're constantly doing just that one thing, it gets old.

Brian and I have a vacation planned. I'm very excited, but the prevailing thought has been how this vacation might affect my work. Not cool.

Time

There's no way to gauge how many hours a week I work, because I'm constantly thinking, talking or doing something work-related. It's a constant that robs me of my personal time. I want to read more. I'd like to write a book. I'd like to travel, go to trivia night, and take a lunch break. But my obsession gets in the way.

Value

Why do I have an emergency fund? Why do I have a savings and retirement account and a budget? So I can be comfortable, not worry so much and take time to enjoy things. That's the value of that money for me. By being in a constant state of self-induced stress and by not fully enjoying anything outside of a single obsession, I'm diminishing the value of my money.

Career

It's hard to think straight when you're obsessive. I remember faltering over calculus problems in high school. My teacher said to walk away, do something else, and then come back to it. It helped. A fresh perspective gave me the clarity necessary to do things the right way. This is something I need to remember in my career: if I keep obsessing and not taking the time to look at my work with a fresh, clear perspective, it's going to suffer. My career is going to suffer. Advancing in your career (and thus, building wealth), isn't just about hard work; it's also about maintaining quality and clarity.

Thinking about all this, I remembered the article I wrote on workplace gratitude. While I still agree with myself, I might have written it differently had I been thinking about workaholism at the time. I might have added a disclaimer. It's one thing to put in 110 percent because having a good work ethic is important to you. But putting your entire life into your job because you're fixated on it and need it in order to feel something…that is, I'm starting to realize, very unhealthy.

What I'm Doing About It

Communicating

Not only does communicating this issue make it more real to me, it also keeps me from engaging in workaholic behavior. For example, Brian knows and agrees that I have an issue, so when my work email dings at dinner, I don't pick it up because he's looking at me like I'm some of kind of fiend.

Setting boundaries

Recently, things were becoming so overwhelming that I had to drop a client — this wasn't easy. It wasn't a huge loss income-wise, but it was still tough. Maybe because of how I grew up, this was like looking a gift horse in the mouth. But I did it; I politely said “no” and thereby set a boundary for myself.

Disconnecting

Part of the reason the statistics keep climbing, I think, is that technology makes work so accessible. Even if you don't work from home, you likely take your office with you. I've started to disconnect. I've disabled email on my phone, for example, and set my laptop to automatically go to sleep.

Work is important. A career is important. I'm certainly not suggesting neglecting either one. But personally, I've gone overboard, and ultimately, I guess it stems from a fixation on building wealth. And I'm still intent on building wealth. But while I do think hard work pays off, I've found that an obsession with it can backfire and end up costing you instead.

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Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
7 years ago

I think it is becoming harder and harder to only work 9-5 with technology so prevalent. You can check email on your phone or tablet. You might be able to have files in the cloud, so you always have access to work, no matter where you are or what time. I don’t consider myself to be a workaholic…I’m able to leave work at work at the end of the day. But even on vacations, I will check email at work. Not because I have to, but because that little red circle with a number in it on my phone bothers… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

Agree, I don’t have any peers (professionals) who work 9-5. I, myself, am normally in the office by 7.30 am and I leave at 6 p.m., that’s 10-11 hours a day, and then I often work a half day on Sunday. I’m also accessible by iPhone and iPad, but because I’m in the office so much, I don’t normally review and respond to work inquires after I leave the office or on Sat. I do, however, start responding to emails at 5 am in the morning when I get up. When I’m on vacation, I will work during travel hours,… Read more »

Stacie
Stacie
7 years ago

I am not quite a workaholic, but I’m probably pretty close. I guess I’ll just feel like I’m behind if I’m not on 24×7. It’s kinda sad that this week my highlight was receiving dual monitors and a laptop docking station so I can have a home setup like I do at work. So I can be more productive when I work at home…at night and on the weekends. I did have a vacation a couple weeks ago, but I tried to take one where I’d be forced to forgo work for an entire week – a cruise. I would… Read more »

Tim
Tim
7 years ago
Reply to  Stacie

Priorities at life guide through activities that we perform. Working is one of them but not all. By the time I realized this, it was too late to catch up.

adult student
adult student
7 years ago

This is hard. Fear is a powerful thing, and sometimes it seems like work is your only self-defense! I feel it too – I’m still in school, while working for experience toward the career I want when I finish – and while I’m not amassing a lot of wealth right now, there is *always* more I could do to build my resume, whether spearheading another project, putting in extra hours, or learning new skills. On the other hand, when all I do is work, I become boring to talk to, miss my friends and family, and don’t sleep as well… Read more »

Giddings Plaza FI
Giddings Plaza FI
7 years ago
Reply to  adult student

You are exactly right on when you say Fear is a factor in making us work harder. The fear of losing our jobs, being disrespected at work, of not getting ahead. The thing is, our employers really DO expect us to be workaholics. After the mass lay-offs during the dotcom bubble a dozen years ago, and then the new round of layoffs during the recent recession, we are each doing the work of several employees. That’s why I’m aiming for financial independence–less stress, more living.

Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ
7 years ago

Perhaps you should talk to El Nerdo about growing pumpkins. That last bit about stepping back and saying no to a job sounded like what he’s been doing lately.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

I can really relate to this post, Kristen! I’m all for the “increasing your income” side of the equation, but I think we need to find balance too. I’m trying to cultivate other kinds of richness in my life right now — friends, family, faith, hobbies, learning, etc. It’s tempting to bury myself in work, but I need to make time for dating, networking and meeting new people. I hate to say it, but I think personal finance blogs often further this culture of “work more, get rich” (or get out of debt faster). It sometimes feels like there’s something… Read more »

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Couldn’t have said it better myself. PF blogs don’t do a good job of promoting doing nothing sometimes. Take a break! You can work yourself to death and get out of debt early, but then you’d be dead and can’t enjoy it. So sometimes I think you should just work a normal amount, enjoy your time off, and spend less to get out of debt…don’t pick up a hundred new jobs!

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
7 years ago

I am definitely a workaholic. I’m pretty much busy from 6:30 am to 11 pm everyday! It does get tiring, but I think it is well worth it.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago

Why is it worth it? Working from 6:30-11 for a job everyday sounds like you’ve lost yourself, lost your balance, lost YOUR meaning to life. I’m honestly confused as to this mind-set but would love to understand this perspective because I know some people who are there.

Mike
Mike
7 years ago

You don’t mention your age or status in life, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in 10-20 years. Working the amount of hours that you do leaves time for little else, and you’re missing out on so many things. Work to live, not live to work!

Marcy
Marcy
7 years ago

I’m always telling my grown sons that they need to take a nice vacation and get away from it all. They work hard and “down” time is so important (for everyone!). A good work/life balance is essential. A happy person is a better, more productive employee, in my opinion. We had a guest speaker at my elementary school who told the students, “Work when you work, play when you play!”. –Good advice for all of us!

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

One reason I decided academia was not a good fit for me is because workaholism is often glorified as a virtue in that world. And honestly using the amount of time you work as a barometer for how good a scholar you are has many pitfalls. I saw tons of grad students spending all day in the library, but that didn’t mean they got much work done. Plus I think quality of work declines if one doesn’t have work/life balance. I have been doing freelance writing recently, and in January, I got three jobs at once. Because I didn’t want… Read more »

Paula
Paula
7 years ago

Kristen; Unless your work is your life-passion, you are wise to curb your constant involvement with it. Always working, and working hard, was the code I was raised to live by. This lifestyle nearly killed me as my health collapsed at age 43 and I have struggled to regain it for over 15 years. Still a busily engaged person, my life looks different now with daily meditation, rest and sleep being essential to my increasing physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Even if you love your work, it can still be an important element of a full life. Both authors, Laura… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Paula

Very insightful, Paula. I love the historical examples you provide.

Workaholism can be very hard on relationships as well. And having a partner who shares your affinity for overworking doesn’t necessarily help. Then you have two people who aren’t willing to compromise their schedules to put in the hard work of staying close mentally, emotionally and physically.

Twiggers
Twiggers
7 years ago

I am in academia and work pretty much all of my waking hours. Sometimes I even lie in bed trying to sleep and I’ll hear the email on my Phone go off, so I’ll roll over and answer it. As it is, to actually get caught up I think I would need a clone for about 2-3 months (also working 80 hour weeks). However, I lOVE what I do and it is a passion. I vacation quite a bit and just bring work with me and spend a few hours here and there working. Shoot…spring break was a cruise where… Read more »

Sheryl
Sheryl
7 years ago

For me this is where having a partner helps. My husband and I have made very concrete decisions about the role of work in our lives and where our boundaries between work and person time are, and it helps keep us from going crazy with the always working. We’ve been there, and it’s hard to maintain a happy life or a healthy relationship when you’re putting in 60-80 hour work weeks.

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

Thanks for writing this. I’m sure it’s not easy to put yourself out there. But good for you for realizing so young that your life needs balance.

I think when you’re self employed it’s hard, and with technology it’s getting even harder, to step away from the work. Most people don’t realize until too late how much their relationships and health have suffered for their work “addiction.”

My Financial Independence Journey
My Financial Independence Journey
7 years ago

You’re not going to become wealthy if you don’t work hard. Of course, what you work hard doing matters as well. But there isn’t a job or career track out there that’s going to make you rich in the absence of working your tail off.

I’m probably a borderline workaholic. It’s gotten worse since I decided to become a blogger in addition to my day job. Now I feel like almost all my time is spent working.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago

What makes one wealthy is spending less that you earn–it has not nothing to do with working your butt off. There are a TON of jobs out there that you can earn a VERY nice wage without working crazy long hours. Dentistry can be a very good paying career, as can air traffic controllers, etc. And of course, there are a TON of business owners who have learned that they can work less and reap in profits by hiring really good help.

Mike
Mike
7 years ago

And what good is being wealthy if you don’t have a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago

I guess I don’t understand… why is enjoying work more than enjoying vacations a problem? Some folks like to be busy. Some folks don’t like to travel. Some folks take vacations that make work look like a nap. Some folks have really enjoyable jobs. Some folks have really fun coworkers and vacations are lonely. Even something like enjoying work more than family isn’t necessarily a good comparison, because we all have diminishing marginal utility– at some point the marginal utility (additional happiness) from an extra minute with your family is equivalent to the marginal utility (additional happiness) you get from… Read more »

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

DSM-IV defines addiction as 3 of the following: (1) Tolerance (2) Withdrawal (3) The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended. (4) There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use. (5) A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance or recover from its effects. (6) Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use. (7) The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Why is “vacation” the defining comparison?

Vacation can be far more stressful than work. Especially if vacation involves small children and extended family. Or vacations can be lonely if you’re single and most of your friends are partnered. Work provides a lot of things besides monetary compensation.

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

?
I didn’t say anything about vacation.

AMW
AMW
7 years ago

Fear…right now that is pretty much the only reason I work as hard as I do. I am self employed. With the economy the way it is right now, I feel that if I turn down a job that I might not get the next one. And I’m not worried about the wealth I am worried about making the bills. Unfortunately, 13 years has gone by since I started my company and 13 years makes a lot of difference in stamina…I can’t do it all anymore (70+ hours/week). My husband works for a fortune 100 company that is very profitable.… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  AMW

I think there is a lot of this out there these days, although I’ve always been a hard worker (the way I was raised). Mr. Sam’s company has been through some changes and he’s picking up extra projects to show how valuable he is, which means more work, and last year he did three certification classes, which cost us $15,000 and required lots of time on his part, to distinguish him from the pack and update some skills. There are lost of organizations and companies that are doing more with less people and that means those people are working more… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  AMW

“Anyone else out there feel like they are reluctant workaholics????”

Yes. Absolutely.

A.
A.
7 years ago
Reply to  AMW

Yes, I am absolutely a reluctant workaholic. When I was salaried, I used to think about how nice it’d be to get paid for every hour worked. (I was working 60-70 hours a week to try to meet client-imposed impossible deadlines, but getting paid for 40.) Yeah… not so much. I now have two hourly jobs, one of which is a work-at-home job where they would be thrilled if I worked 24 hours a day and never got up from the computer. So now, I constantly have this ticker running in my head. Spent an hour making a healthy dinner… Read more »

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
7 years ago

I don’t see enjoying your work and feeling happy a problem. It’s good 🙂 You are still passionate about it.

Don’t be so negative! I think what other people are telling you about working so much is getting to you. Remember, most people do not enjoy their jobs, and they can’t imagine someone actually wanting to check their email, etc. Don’t let their negativity rub off on you.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

You have to figure for yourself if you check your email because you genuinely want to because that’s what you want to do with your life, or if you “want” to because you fear retribution if you don’t. Fear vs desire.

Eve
Eve
7 years ago

The numbers in the Psychology Today report did not sound right to me. I looked up the survey cited and it is a survey of people with the job title “system administrator.” According to the BLS Americans work an average of 34.5 hours/week (non-farm payroll), which is more in line with what I’ve heard.

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
7 years ago
Reply to  Eve

Thanks. I was puzzling over that figure too.

Matt Becker
Matt Becker
7 years ago

I think (maybe hope?) that the general point is that it’s important to identify all of the things we value/want out of life and to make sure that our time is spent accordingly. For Kristin, it sounds like her addiction to work is getting in the way of other things she’d like to be doing. This is the source of the problem, not the simple act of working a lot. With all things, whether they’re related to our career, finances, family life, or whatever, need to be put into the bigger context. What are the things we value and how… Read more »

Jacob@CashCowCouple
7 years ago

Some people handle the 9-5 well and leave it all behind. Other’s can’t escape.

I want to run my own business at some point, but I know that means long hours and a possible blending of work/home life. I think it’s worthwhile if you truly love what you do.

Nick @ ayoungpro.com
Nick @ ayoungpro.com
7 years ago

My father-in-law has 4 jobs. He never sleeps and is in very poor health. Workaholism will end up killing him way before his time.

WWII Kid
WWII Kid
7 years ago

So, am I a work-a-holic or not? I fear poverty and I have financial goals, so I work accordingly to prevent one and achieve the other. When I decided to max out my 401(k) because my employer offered a match on the entire contribution, I needed another job to have to money to live on. So I work weekends at a business that is different from my full thus offering me training and experience in another (yet lower paying) field. When I realized I had a skill that would allow me to earn extra money with a home-based business having… Read more »

Devin
Devin
7 years ago
Reply to  WWII Kid

To what amount does your Employer match your 401K up to? If you went to work for yourself full time, how much would you have to make to make up for the salary AND benefits that you would be giving up? If you do it in retirement, could you limit it to a certain number of hours or days a week? I am much the same as you. I grew up fairly poor and like the security of savings. I work full time as a Sales Rep for a Fortune 500 company and then work Sundays and some Holidays as… Read more »

Juli
Juli
7 years ago

One of the things I love about my job is that I go in at 8, leave at 4:30. And outside of those hours, I don’t think about my job at all — other than telling DH all the crazy things the customers/my co-workers/the boss said or did. I used to be a teacher and, while it was certainly nice having Christmas break and spring break off, I felt like I was working 24/7 when school was in session.

Marcy
Marcy
7 years ago
Reply to  Juli

I’m a retired teacher and felt like I was working 24/7 during the school year, too. I felt as though I jumped on a fast moving merry-go-round in mid-August and was dropped off of it on the first day of June. Summers were spent teaching summer school, attending workshops, or taking additional coursework. I don’t miss my alarm clock at all!

Ely
Ely
7 years ago

This is one of the reasons I never want to work for myself. I like ‘parameters’. Without them I think I’d be living on a never-ending roller coaster of misery. Work too much, burn out, work too little, go broke, both ends damage the self-esteem and leave me sobbing on the floor. No thanks, I’ll take my 9 to 5.

Of course I’ve been very lucky in my 9 to 5. Not everyone gets that.

abby
abby
7 years ago

i love having a 7-3 job. and the best part is i literally cannot take my work home with me as i work in a lab setting and my fancy equipment has to stay at work.
that and all my coworkers know that i don’t have a smart phone or even internet at the house so there is no point in trying to contact me via email.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

I don’t get work email on my phone, and I leave every day at 5. I get EXCELLENT performance reviews, and I think setting that boundary (I won’t work before 8 or after 5 unless it is a special event that they schedule me for) forces me to be productive and “on” when I am actually at work, since I know I won’t do it later. I do know that the standard workplace culture advice is to observe when your supervisor(s) leave. My direct supervisor leaves at 4 to pick up her baby from daycare and her supervisor leaves at… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
7 years ago

I think I have mild workaholic tendencies, but my paying job isn’t enough to satisfy them, so I’ve turned to volunteer work to fill the gap. I am a Scout leader, a youth group leader, serve on several church committees and sing in a gospel choir. Plus I’m a pretty active blogger and activist. I love it and I have amassed more volunteer time than anyone in the company – 500 hours over 2 years, but it means I have virtually NO downtime, or time to do laundry and grocery shopping. Even my email is Adrian’s Crazy Life because that’s… Read more »

krantcents
krantcents
7 years ago

A workaholic is a person who works compulsively at the expense of other pursuits. Working hard to achieve goals is different. I have a day job and work another 40 hours on my blog, but it is not a compulsion and definitely not at the expense of of other pursuits. I still have a life with my kids and wife.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

I learned that lesson the hard way. Prior to my MS diagnoses I was working 45 hours a week plus any amount of time I could building a business (basically anytime I wasn’t sleeping). Eventually my body rebelled and I fell flat on my face, literally and figuratively. MS was going to come regardless but the physical and mental stress I put myself under accelerated the progress. Now on disability my work hours are limited and my life is so much more stable and my health is better now than it was even in my 20s when I was working… Read more »

Peggy
Peggy
7 years ago

My faith strongly recommends taking one day in seven to put work aside, and to rest and focus on other important things. I have been doing this for years, and I find that I get just as much work done, if not more, than I would have if I had worked straight through. The temporary change in perspective helps me to re-orient, so that I can work more effectively for the next week. It also reminds me that my work is ultimately not the source of my identity or my existence.

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago

Lovely article. I don’t know if I’m a work-aholic in the sense that I feel a “high” from working, but I feel like if I have free time I should be working (earning money). I’m not trying to earn money just for money sake, but since I’ve started focusing on what I want out of my future it’s easy to get caught up on trying to prepare my future self to have all her dreams come true. Sometimes I feel like I’m driving fast, but my sight is focused in the distance (which is dangerous btw). I work two jobs… Read more »

Charles @ CreditMedium
Charles @ CreditMedium
7 years ago

Everything in life is a balance. I’ve had friends rave about their job, spend hours on weekends doing work they didn’t have to do, and miss out on life because they overworked themselves for some strange self satisfying philosophy. I found out months later that the whole time, these people actually hated their jobs. Work to your hearts content, but really think about that. Always put your best foot forward where applicable and don’t over do it unless you’re working to a specific goal. What do you really want out of your job, and is your hard work even getting… Read more »

Greg @ thriftgenuity.com
Greg @ thriftgenuity.com
7 years ago

In my last job, I definitely struggled with the disconnecting. Having a company phone and line top is like virtual shackles…very hard to get away.

I also wonder if the job market has made it worse because people are more worried that if they are not always plugged in, someone may one up them and their job could be in jeopardy.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago

Love the article. European countries have actually studied productivity and found that after a certain amount of sustained working hours and productivity and found that when workers work more than 60 hours per week for over x amount of weeks, their productivity/output is LESS than workers who work only 40 hours per week. Workers in industrial labor have more accidents when working over a certain amount of hours per week; transportation drivers have the same problem with an increased number of accidents (which led to regulating the amount of hours truck drivers can record). It’s been shown throughout most work… Read more »

jusgre
jusgre
7 years ago

I can totally relate to the idea of fear-based workaholism.

For you, it’s fear of poverty. For me, it’s fear of perceived ineptitude, as in: “I don’t have the impressive credentials of some of my peers, so if I’m not seen by everyone in the company as the hardest-working sonamabitch around, I won’t be respected, and I might even get fired.”

Do or Debt
Do or Debt
7 years ago

I’m there with ya! I find scheduling time to relax and have some ‘me’ time is necessary, because even the act of scheduling it makes me feel productive, lol. You don’t want to cause burn out, resentment or kill yourself, so do what’s best for you and take the time! Freelance can easily turn into working 24/7, just be sure to continue to set boundaries.

The Norwegian Girl
The Norwegian Girl
7 years ago

I definitely agree that there´s a big difference between hard work and workaholism, and yet so many people get it wrong. I`m a firm believer in keeping good health, and workaholism is absolutely not something that`s good for your health wise. so many people get a job burnout, because they were never able to set boundaries between leisure and business.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago

I guess part of the reason I dislike this article is this underlying current of belief a lot of people have that people who are productive are also miserable. People who work hard must be miserable, because there’s no way they could be happy working a lot. http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/pondering-productivity-and-trying-to-hack-it/ I think people know when they’re unhappy or happy, and telling happy people that they’re actually unhappy and forcing them to change what they’re doing can turn happy productive people into unhappy unproductive people. On top of that, it is annoying to be told that you work too much or that you… Read more »

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

What if you work a lot and are happy, but you’re physically a disaster and your loved ones are sad because they never get to see you?

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Kristen Wong– are you a physical disaster? Feeling good while working doesn’t actually mean you’re in bad shape. There’s a psychological literature on the effect– it is called “flow” it is a good thing and good for your health. (Feeling bad and stressed, that’s bad.) Do you get panic attacks? That would be a bad sign. Has checking your email caused loved ones to hate being around you? Do you feel like you’re missing out on life? I’m not getting that vibe from your post. Just that you read some articles that denigrate work but aren’t actually valid for your… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

It sounds to me like her primary motivation to work is to make money (not necessarily love of the job), and she’s realizing that the whole reason she wanted money in the first place was so she wouldn’t have to work.

Kevin Watts @Graduatingfromdebt
Kevin Watts @Graduatingfromdebt
7 years ago

Fantastic post. The statistic of Americans over on average of 54 hours a week is disturbing. My regular job allows the 40 hours a week and then I do blogging on the side so I put in about 55-60 hours a week. I still get to enjoy friends and family. I think the important thing here is building a lifestyle that allows to do the things you really enjoy. If work gets in the way of that do you should cut back at least a little.

Mr.Bonner@bonnersbillions
7 years ago

I feel like I’ve getting sucked into the workaholic vortex more and more each year, especially with the ability to remotely control/monitor things from my phone/ipad/laptop. I’m stepping away from the day to day hands on stuff, so I’ve been training some newbies. Hopefully, by the summer I’ll be able to dial back the night/weekend monitoring of experiments as the newbies take things over. Maybe I should shed a device or two…

Wm
Wm
7 years ago

I felt just like Kristin’s mom did…Being workaholic is a nice problem to have. And I probably feel that way because I still haven’t found a job I am completely passionate about. So I haven’t been a workaholic so far. I’m still young, but I would like to figure it out soon so that work doesn’t feel like work and I would want to do it out of my own desire, rather than for the “money”. Sure, a good work-life balance would be absolutely necessary even when you are working on your passion.

Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce
7 years ago

Great insight. We tend to gravitate toward simply praising our own hard work, which becomes a destructive cycle if unchecked.

@pfinMario
@pfinMario
7 years ago

It matters at what stage of you life you are in deciding whether to be a workaholic. Single and child-free, I’d rather get my long hours in now before I’m more encumbered.

@pfinMario
@pfinMario
7 years ago
Reply to  @pfinMario

Sorry, I mean more “blessed”

Greg
Greg
7 years ago

Well, many people do not have the choice to work hard or not. As companies downsize, the work does not go away, it gets moved to those remaining. So for the same pay, employees keep doing more and more work, requiring more time at work. The fear issue is right, not fear of saving money, but fear of losing the job. Employers help create and sustain this fear – translates into efficiency. Work away!

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