One of the hardest balancing acts for any adult is their work-life ratio. Although working at a job is almost always a necessity for a person, it can often have a great cost to their relationships and overall health. While God created work as a meaningful part of life, for workaholics, work becomes the primary avenue by which they find approval, respect, and success.
Work life needs to be managed in the context of a healthy relationship with God, marriage and family life, and commitments with community. When this balance is not found, work can become an all consuming obsession. Here are the following symptoms of workaholism and how you know if you have developed it:
- Working 60-70 hours a week
- An inability to experience “rest” and always feeling time conscious and rushed
- A chronic sense of urgency in every activity
- A constant need for acceptance and significance in the eyes of others as a result of work
- Problems developing intimate relationships with others, poor self-image, and rigid in their way of thinking and behaving.
In addition, the workaholic’s family often suffers the most. Children in a family of a workaholic often feel that their parent is not as interested in them and is always annoyed with them. Children often feel like their parent does not value their feelings and playful times are often replaced by competition.
In helping the workaholic, the natural thing is to encourage them to slow down and work fewer hours. But, this is not the entire answer and the issues run deeper. Here are some suggestions to help the workaholic:
- Evaluate the past – An unhealthy obsession with work typically results from a poor self-worth. This poor self worth can come from negative messages received from parents, siblings, and/or peers from when a person was younger. More than likely intimacy skills were not developed either, which translates to a lack of connection with spouse, children, and friends. Realize that significance is found through Christ, not work.
- Find balance – Evaluate the activities during the week and assess which involvements are unnecessary and contributing to the problem. It may become necessary to schedule in time for leisure, family, and friends. Each day, focus needs to be placed on social, emotional, spiritual, and physical health by balancing out activities and time devoted towards each of these. Make sure there is a definitive end to the workday in regards to shutting down the email, phone calls, and devices.
- Slow down the pace – Establishing a slower pace with activities and interactions is important. Stop looking at time with others outside of work as “just another meeting”. Spend time with others and/or leisure activities that involve putting away the cell phone and clocks.
- Find positive support – Spend reflective time with people who will be honest, create accountability, and who show love and support. People who are interested in helping to find out the root causes that have caused the workaholism.
- Refocus the purpose and responsibilities – A career is part of life, but God has called all people to a greater purpose. Understanding and embracing the more important responsibilities of life will bring a feeling of enhanced satisfaction and joy.
Michael Linn is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He is the owner of Resolute Counseling, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He can be reached by calling 717-264-0450 or visiting www.resolutecounseling.com.