Hi Kate, I’m a bit of a workaholic and I over-invest myself in work matters, caring about things that I don’t need to get involved in. In the past, this has led to me getting a reputation as someone that will always be there and do whatever is needed. I then take on too much responsibility and end up working late every day and often over the weekends. This impacts my wellbeing and my life outside of work, which is almost non-existent. I nearly burnt out in my last job, and I had to take two months off. I am now in a new role, and I am worried my workaholism will start creeping back in. Do you have any advice on how I can stop this from happening again?
This month’s question comes from Pamela.
If Pamela and I were working together and had more time to unpack this, it would also be helpful to look at what’s behind this because there’s usually a (false) core belief or value driving the behaviour.
A workaholic is typically getting a sense of self-esteem through excelling. When we get to the root of the core belief it’s often along the lines of: Hard work makes me a good person or hard work makes me a valuable person.
These beliefs also commonly tie in with people-pleasing tendencies and perfectionism.
The person isn’t putting their core needs first and chances are that they’ve spent so long ignoring their needs that they struggle to notice or listen to the body’s signals to stop. Which is how self-inflicted burnout happens.
There’s also often a lack of awareness around health and wellbeing, the value and need for rest, and the direct impact of chronic stress. Because of this, I’ve found that when you finally get a recovering workaholic to work less, they then transfer the busyness to their personal life!
So, when I’m working with someone on this, we start off by creating a deeper understanding of:
Stress: What it is, how to spot the signs, how to manage stress and work with it.
Symptoms: As messages from the body that they must listen to and act on.
Rest: It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity and an investment in their health, wellbeing and performance.
Life: We look at what they’re missing out on and what they’d like to be doing with their life outside of work … without taking on too much!
The Future: Workaholics are often living in survival mode and their focus is just getting through each day. By taking stock of what they want for their future, they start giving more weight to how they’re spending their valuable time.
Once someone starts to understand what is happening when they’re chronically stressed, when they’re sedentary for most of the day, when they’re sleeping poorly; Their symptoms and health issues make more sense, and they value their health and wellbeing more.
Once they understand the importance and benefit of rest and how it directly relates back to their performance… Rest becomes more of a priority.
Once they identify the core belief or value that’s driving the workaholic behaviour and understand where it came from, they realise it’s not who they are and it’s therefore something they can rewrite.
Once they identify and value their own needs and true desires, they prioritise their free time more.
Along with some practical time and energy planning tools, this all leads to creating and maintaining strong boundaries and a reprioritisation of what’s truly important. And the silver lining is that they typically gain more respect from colleagues through having better boundaries with themselves and others.
If you resonate with this article and want some help in overcoming workaholism, perfectionsim and/or people pleasing so that you can create more work-life balance, get in touch to enquire about working together. Email email@example.com or click here for more contact options.