What is the difference between working hard and being a workaholic?
The Boston Globe once mentioned that companies with 20 or fewer employees represent nearly 90% of all U.S. businesses. A survey of 300 executives at these companies (the survey was done by Staples, Inc.) showed that:
- 51% work on holidays
- 49% work while driving
- 21% work while eating dinner at least 4-5 times per week
- 37% could not readily remember their last vacation
- 18% admit to reading work-related emails and documents while in the bathroom
- 68% work on days off, checking email, voicemail, or making work-related calls
- 66% work after hours and at night
- 47% work during what is supposed to be family time
Are we becoming a bunch of workaholics?
Work is important — to make a living, to have identity, to feel satisfaction, achievement and success. But what we often fail to realize is that play is every bit as important. Play allows you to use your imagination, be creative, experience fun and pleasure and to de-stress. Down time is necessary to spend time nurturing relationships and to spend time with yourself to do things like thinking, reading and relaxing.
In this digital day and age of email and cell phones, we have gained the ability to work from anywhere and make increased use of our time. The problem is, yes, we can work from anywhere — home, vacation, even the bathroom is no longer off limits!
This means that you or your spouse has to be the one to set the limit. It is no longer, “I can’t work.” It has to be, “I will not work now.” People who are anxious about their performance and highly competitive may have a lot of trouble doing this.
There is a difference between working hard and being a workaholic. The workaholic really can’t stop without feeling anxious and continues to work despite the toll it is taking on them and those around them. They have lost touch with their own feelings and those of their loved ones. They work even when it isn’t necessary and it takes away from time they could otherwise spend with their family.
What a workaholic often fails to realize (and you can help them realize) is that the time they lose with their spouse and children cannot be retrieved, and they will likely regret it. They lose what really matters to them in life, like joy, contentment and love. They also create workaholism in their children who will likely model them and grow up to do the same thing.
Talk to your spouse about the importance of play for all of you. Help him or her list his priorities and set a better example for your children. Talk to him about building in times when work is simply off limits and how much it matters to you and your children.