By Debra Davenport, for Yahoo! HotJobs
You know who you are: You take your cellphone to bed, work every weekend and never seem to have time to relax. You think about work constantly and give it priority right up there with your family and kids. You may be a workaholic.
In the US, where hard work and long hours are considered essential for success, it's not surprising that workaholism can be perceived as an asset, rather than the true addiction it actually is.
As Sid Kirchheimer writes on WebMD, "Workaholism is the respectable addiction." Kirchheimer goes on to explain that, in Japan, workaholism is called "karoshi" or "death by overwork."
He also points out that in the Netherlands, people are actually getting sick by trying to stop working -- a phenomenon called "leisure illness." Workers there are apparently so conditioned to overwork that, on weekends and vacations, they actually become ill from trying -- without success -- to relax and unwind.
The Futile Cycle
Workaholics typically continue to work past the point of exhaustion, causing them to make mistakes and work even harder to fix them. They also find that when they get where they were so driven to be, there is often nothing there. This leads to a chronic cycle of obsessive goal-chasing which, in reality, is much like the hamster running on the wheel -- frenetic movement that leads to nowhere.
Recognizing that workaholism is a compulsive behavioral disorder is the first step in helping a person realize that his lifestyle is out of balance and poses serious health risks.
Typically, workaholism is fueled by underlying issues, which can include perfectionism, an unmet need for control, fear and low self-esteem. Frequently the workaholic will work to avoid other issues, and this avoidance becomes a behavioral pattern that becomes very difficult to break.
Steps You Can Take
Like any addiction, workaholism should be treated with a multipronged approach that may include counseling, behavior modification, hypnotherapy, lifestyle changes and family intervention. Some tips for getting a handle on workaholism:
For more information, visit Workaholics Anonymous.[Debra Davenport, PhD, is a career expert and the president of DavenportFolio, a licensed firm that mentors entrepreneurs and professionals.]