Workaholism Could Be Killing Your Career

October 21, 2014

Are you a workaholic? Do you pride yourself on your long hours and think that said extended hours are making you more successful on the job? 

We have some bad news for you—your workaholic lifestyle isn’t helping you look better and could actually be detrimental to your career growth.

America’s Best-Dressed Addiction


Workaholics often see themselves as indispensable to their company. However, their boss is likely to see them as inefficient and their family, if they see the office slave at all, lives with a remote, detached person who has no time for dinner, baseball games or dance recitals.

Related: 6 Tips to Be a More Effective Professional

This puts a strain on the emotional health of both the worker and his or her family, and is actually classified by psychotherapist Dr. Bryan E. Robinson as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which workaholics have problems separating personal and professional lives, and suffer from a lack of balance and is similar to any form of addiction.

Symptoms of Workaholism

Forbes gave five examples of workaholism, and how they could be detrimental to your long term career goals:

1. You Work Longer Hours than Colleagues: Workaholics are typically the first into the office and the last to leave, also working at home (sometimes hiding their work from others).  This increase in hours actually does not boost productivity, studies say.

2. You Can’t Turn Off and Feel Guilty without Work: True workaholism, says Robinson, is the inability to turn off thoughts of work. “A workaholic is someone on the ski slopes who is dreaming about being back in the office.”

3. Your Physical Health Suffers: Workaholics have a lot of bad habits that can hamper health. Avoiding exercise, turning to junk food, eating at their desk—all of which hamper the overall health of the employee.

4. Relationships Suffer: Workaholics tend to miss important life milestones like anniversaries and birthdays because of work. They have a hard time saying “no” to the boss and an even harder time saying “yes” to the family.

5. Worth is tied to Work Success: “Workaholics define their self and self-esteem by achievement only,” says executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD. Work addicts routinely tie their value and identity to their work and feel destroyed by less-than stellar results. The culprit, she says, is perfectionism. With these unrealistic expectations, a worker will rarely feel satisfied with themselves.

Physical signs of workaholism may include headaches, fatigue, indigestion, chest pain, shortness of breath, nervous tics or dizziness.

Behavioral signs may include temper outbursts, restlessness, insomnia, difficulty relaxing, irritability, impatience, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, boredom and mood swings from euphoria to depression, Robinson says.

There are many other red flags for workaholism. To find out if you exhibit other signs of workaholism, take Robinson’s Work Addiction Risk Test.

Differences between Hard Work and Workaholism

Hard workers aren’t workaholics, and the 40 hour hard worker actually gets more things done in the long run.  Hard workers tend to miss fewer days than workaholics, develop better working relationships with others in the office, especially subordinates, and are more efficient.

1. Hard workers think of work as a required and (at times) pleasurable obligation. Workaholics see work as a way to distance themselves from unwanted feelings and relationships.

2. Hard workers keep work in check so they can be available to their family and friends. Workaholics believe that work is more important than anything else in their lives, including family and friends.

3. Workaholics get excitement from meeting impossible demands. Hard workers don’t.

4. Hard workers can take breaks from work while workaholics can’t. They think about work regardless of what they’re doing or who they’re with.

Overcoming Workaholism and Growing Your Career

Still in denial? Of course, if this is a deep-seated workaholic attitude, you aren’t going to believe us.  However, remember that workaholism isn’t directly correlated to productivity, and even less related to success.  Your boss (and colleagues) see you as

  • Inefficiency due to an overanalyzing mentality and perfectionism on even the most minor projects
  • Not a team player
  • A Poor Leader who can’t delegate tasks, who micromanages employees, andwho makes unreasonable demands
  • Someone who lacks self-esteem and confidence

In essence, a workaholic harms his or her long-term career prospects by doing the one thing expected to help said prospects.  So what can you do to become a more productive and grow your career? Start by admitting that you have a problem.  Then seek help from therapists specializing in work-related studies, the assistance of groups like Workaholics Anonymous, or even from interventions.

The following resources will help you better understand workaholism and begin working to overcome this; improving your relationships, career path, and even physical health:

We hope that this will help you to take the next step in improving your results, your relationships, and will help you to make the most of your career.  Follow us on Twitter to get the latest in both job seeker and recruiting tips, and contact us to learn more about taking the next step in your career.

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