Reforming your workaholic ways

My post from earlier this week on how to help the employees of your small business attain work-life balance really struck a chord with readers. I had several Twitter chats with people about it and decided that perhaps the topic of being a workaholic deserved further exploration.

In researching the topic, here is the best definition I came across of what it means to be a workaholic; it’s from an article on WebMD that is definitely worth a read: “The preoccupation with work is really at the core of what workaholism is,” says Robinson, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Asheville, N.C. “I always say that the difference between someone who’s a true workaholic and someone who’s just a hard worker is that the workaholic is on the ski slopes dreaming about being back at work, and the hard worker is in the office dreaming about being on the ski slope.”

Did that ring a bell with you? Do you think of work constantly, no matter what you’re dong? Here are other questions to ask yourself to help determine if you’re a workaholic or just someone working hard.

Do you have trouble delegating work?

Do your employees think of you as a control freak or a micromanager? (Don’t know the answer to this? Ask them!)

Are you neglecting the nonworking aspects of your life? For example, do you often miss out on family gatherings or miss your children’s activities, such as sporting events or school plays?

If you have a hobby, are you trying to turn that into a business instead of letting it just be a pleasurable, relaxing activity?

Do you lie to family and friends about the number of hours you’re working?

Have you hidden work from your family at home or while on vacation?

Is working on weekends the norm instead of a rarity?

Do you frequently call employees at home after hours to discuss work?

If you’re showing these symptoms, it’s time to consider whether this is the path to a successful life or just the path to stress, poor health, and failed relationships with family, friends, and employees. As I wrote in my last post, long hours do not necessarily equate to real productivity. Some of the behaviors I listed above make it hard to retain good employees because no one likes to be micromanaged or to have to be at the boss’ beck and call 24/7. Thus, in the long run, your workaholic ways may be doing more damage than good to your small business.

This is an area where talking with a professional therapist can help you devise an action plan to regain your work-life balance. And not surprisingly, there is a group that you can turn to for help if you want to become a reformed workaholic. Workaholics Anonymous is a national support group modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs. Their website has its own list of questions that can help you determine whether you are a certified workaholic or just a hard worker. The group hosts meetings around the country where you can find support and solutions that will help you re-balance your life.

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