There’s a fine line between being a hard worker and being addicted to work, and crossing that line can be easy when you’re single and paying all the bills.
My name is Kim and I’m a workaholic. I didn’t think so until recently. Before that I was a hard worker, dutiful, dedicated — and of course, don’t you know, as a business owner I have to work particularly hard — it’s just a reality of life. It didn’t seem odd. I was just like many of my other friends who seemed to be working all of the time. The whole idea of working hard was tied in to my self-worth, something instilled in me since childhood. It was the opposite of lazy, shiftless, spoiled and entitled — and who wants to be any of those things?
I became too busy to see friends and I prided myself on my ability to multi-task, which for me meant combining work with social obligations. Going to happy hour with a friend became an opportunity to check out a venue for the next SingularCity event. Even my vacations were tied to writing content for Singular magazine — which meant I was taking notes, meeting with PR people and following a rigid agenda the entire time I was supposed to be taking time off from work.
It’s hard to see when you’ve become a workaholic, because unlike alcoholism or drug addiction, work addiction gets a lot of support in our society. “I have to work,” we tell our friends and family with a certain sense of pride and superiority. “I don’t have time for fun. I’m busy. Don’t you know how hard it is to do all that I have to do?”
The idea of fun for the sake of fun makes a workaholic anxious. Running on a hamster wheel of endless tasks makes it so much easier to avoid doing anything that might spark imagination or creativity — endeavors that are much scarier than simply marking items off a never-ending to-do list.
That’s how the workaholic pushes away family and friends, and in the process of being so industrious and diligent, avoids loved ones and, most damaging, their own feelings.
Since workaholism is a process addiction, meaning that it’s not an addiction to a substance but to a behavior, it can be hard to tell when you’ve crossed the line from someone who has a “great work ethic” to someone who is using work to block feelings, relationships and creativity — all of which require play and rest to cultivate.
Workaholism is something that can be particularly natural to slip into when you’re single. We know it’s up to us to pay the bills and it can be easy to imagine that if we don’t work long enough or hard enough, we will fail. And yes, being single offers many positive options and opportunities, but it also has considerable challenges — the biggest being to not let fear run the show.
Exhausted, I sought the advice of a wise friend. I listed all the work I had to do and told her it reminded me of a circus act I once saw where a man attempted to spin as many plates as possible on tall willowy sticks, running from one to the other as fast as he could to keep them from falling.
“If I don’t get to them in time, they’ll fall and crash to the floor,” I told her.
Her response? “Let ‘em fall.”
Not the answer I expected, but it made my heart suddenly feel about 100 pounds lighter.
“Just let them fall?” I asked, incredulous.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Better a plate or two than you.”
Not sure if you might be a workaholic? Ask yourself these questions. If you answer yes to three or more, you may be well on your way to becoming one. (Source: Workaholics Annonymous)
- Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
- Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can’t get anything done?
- Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
- Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
- Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
- Do you turn your hobbies into moneymaking ventures?
- Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
- Have your family and friends given up expecting you on time?
- Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won’t otherwise get done?
- Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
- Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
- Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
- Are you afraid that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
- Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
- Do you do things energetically and competitively, including play?
- Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
- Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
- Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
- Do you work or read during meals?
- Do you believe that more money will solve other problems in your life?
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.