How do you know when you are a “toxic” workaholic?
Fortune Magazine, 12 November 2007, identifies 4 “bad signs” of workaholism from psychologist, executive coach, and author Debra Condren:
- Marital conflict—“you and your spouse fight about your hours”; this goes beyond the occasional late nighter or weekend stint, when “the expectation is that when work abates, family will once again get top billing.”
- Child neglect—“your kids stop inviting you to their birthday parties. Eventually family members [especially the kids] learn not to count on [you].”
- Staff rebellion—“your employees sneak out of work. Toxic bosses make everyone around them feel bad about having a life.”
- In sickness and in health—“you work when ill. The worst cases think they are the only ones who can get things done.”
I’d add to this list that if you are feeling bad (i.e. overly stressed or burdened and not good about what your doing and how your living your life), your conscience is trying to tell you something.
I read a book recently that said no one at the end of their lives wished they had spent more time in the office, but often they do look back with tremendous regret at not having spent more time with family, friends, and at worship.
All this doesn’t mean to take away from having a full, meaningful professional life and being a productive human being. No one should have to miss out on the opportunity to challenge oneself and “give back” something to society—gratis is nice, but then again there’s the mortgage :)
The key is to be able to balance your personal and professional life. If you can’t do that then eventually it ALL falls apart anyway. So every person has to take control of their lives and live them to their fullest and that means taking care of what’s really important, including yourself and your loved ones!
I had a terrific boss in Enterprise Architecture who used to say, this is “best effort” i.e. don’t “kill yourself” over the assignment, just do your best. And that’s really “IT”, just do YOUR best. You don’t have to be superhuman or try to meet the often unrealistic demands or succumb to the ill-wishing of others. At work, just do your honest best, look out for the interests of the enterprise take care of your people, and the rest will follow.