Who is a Workaholic?
A workaholic is an individual who works compulsively. The term originates from alcoholism. The individual works at the cost of their sleep, meeting friends or family. In the meantime the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also alternately imply that they simply feel compelled to do it.
Presently there isn’t any generally accepted medical definition of such a condition, although some forms of stress, impulse control disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be work-related.
Signs of Workaholism
There are specific criteria that point to workaholism. According to this article by Psychology Today, researchers from the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen have come up with the following seven criteria that may be signs of workaholism:
1. A Workaholic thinks of how he/she can free up more time to work.
2. A Workaholic spends much more time working than initially intended.
3. A Workaholic works in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
4. A Workaholic has been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. A Workaholic becomes stressed if they are prohibited from working.
6. A Workaholic deprioritizes hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
7. A Workaholic works so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
If you answer “often” or “always” to any of the above, according to the scale, you may be a workaholic.
Three signs of Workaholism:
1. Feeling compelled to work because of internal pressures.
2. Having persistent thoughts about work when not working.
3. Working beyond what is reasonably expected of the worker (as established by the requirements of the job or basic economic needs) despite the potential for negative consequences.
Does Your Work Give You Worth?
Expert defines a workaholic in this article as a “work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success.”
This definition brings another aspect of workaholism into play. Workaholics often tend to base their worth as human beings in their work success.
However, as Christians, we know that our worth is found in Christ alone. We have worth as God’s creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:27), and not of ourselves, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9). This is part of what makes workaholism so harmful; it leaves us trying to create our own worth, when in reality, everything we have is a gift from God, and He already loves us.
Is Work More Important than Other People?
“individuals who work too much are emotionally present for all family members, co-workers and friends, and who manages to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal responsibility is not a workaholic…Workaholics, in contrast, lack this wisdom. Work addicts are obsessed with their work performance and hooked on an adrenalin-high.”
Is working too much getting in the way of caring for others in your life? Do you put professional advancement before your duties to others?
Is Work More Important than God?
This may not be one you’ll find in journals of psychology, but if work is taking precedence over a relationship with God, this is a sign of a serious problem.
What this will mean is different for each person. But there are a few key questions we can ask ourselves.
Where do I find my worth? Am I more worried what my boss thinks than what God thinks? Am I compromising my morals to achieve? Is my identity in my job more important than my identity in Christ?
Workaholics Eventually Fall Apart
Psychologists agree that, even though workaholics are often extremely energetic, such intense activity and stress can’t be kept up forever. Eventually, they will break down and engage in increasingly harmful mindsets and behaviors.
Most college students experience this first hand, I took the full credit load every semester. Multiple Jobs and unpaid internships are carried out simultaneously. No grade below an A was acceptable.
Most people meet each and every one of the seven criteria for workaholism above. People may even tell you to stop piling on responsibilities, to slow down. I didn’t. And it comes back to bite you.
It takes quite some time for most to recover as workaholics, overcoming the guilt that plagues me whenever I’m not working and intentionally spending time with friends and family or engaging in hobbies. I’m nowhere near as “productive” as I once was, but I’m learning to remember my worth comes from a God who loves me. I’m learning how to say no to certain opportunities, to slow down and enjoy life.
Work Can Be an Idol
If you think you might be suffering from workaholism, it’s a good idea to talk to a counselor or other professional.
However, regardless of whether you specifically suffer from a work addiction, it is always important to remember to put God first. Work, whether you spend six hours or sixty at it every week, is capable of becoming an idol, replacing God as the most important thing in our lives.
Colossians 3:23 reminds us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” We are, indeed, supposed to work diligently, but it is for the Lord’s sake.
As long as the Lord is foremost in our minds in all things, we are far less likely to fall into the trap of work addiction. Hope that’s helpful, and good luck with unraveling these truths for yourself!