Test: Are You a Workaholic?

A sunny beach is filled by small umbrellas and silent sound of waves. This sound is however constantly interrupted by clattering of keyboards, beeping of iPods, complaints on the lack of battery power and weak wifi.

Half of the beach guests successfully ignore peaking holiday season as their minds remain in their office. With the upcoming summer, such picture may be observed in resorts and destinations all around the globe. Workaholism is a creepy addiction supported by modern lifestyle. Check the following test and find out whether you will also suffer on holiday. The questions were prepared by specialists to identify possible inclination to this “social illness”.

1. Do you often feel strong desire and urge to work?

2. Do you have problems with self-moderation in regard to work (e.g. rushing to work, loading too much work or not knowing when to stop working)?

3. Do you feel discomfort if you are not allowed or able to work, even for a short time?

3. Do you feel internal desire to spend more and more time working?

4. Do you neglect other interests and leisure activities because of work?

5. Do you keep working even though it is evident that your health and other values shall be affected? 

If you answered “yes” more than three times, you may tend to work addiction. More comprehensive diagnostic test is published e.g. on the websites of Workaholics Anonymous. This association was founded in 1983 in the US, where the amount of persons exceeding 60 working hours per week reaches 10 million. The urge to increase daily amount of assignment and stress is not limited to this country. According to Reuters survey, top workaholic states are on every continent of the world: Australia, South Africa, South Korea, the US and Sweden. Nevertheless, the infamous place of labour champion is traditionally occupied by Japan. Japanese language even contains special word for death caused by work overload: “karoshi”.

Glass of Tasks, Bottle of Work

Convincing results at work are expected by bosses and appreciated by friends. Therefore the first stage of workaholism may be beneficial as well as hard to recognize. Respective person often works overtime, thinks about work even at home and refuses to have some days off. According to specialist Diane Fassel, the second stage cuts the relationships and social life of the addicted person off. The workaholic may feel physical symptoms such as headaches, nightmares or sleep disturbances. Sometimes he or she may experience problems with own identity that is perceived as inseparable from particular job. Usually the workaholic may deny that he or she is in trouble and try to solve the pickle by another additional work. Further attributes are represented by the inability to acknowledge own results and the desire to be even better. Finally in the terminal stage, the victim is unaible to feel empathy for other people, including family members or friends. Because of the overload, he or she is cannot get the job done, which lowers his or her self-confidences and forces the victim to recklessly launch other impossible project. This vicious circle usually escalates the physical symptoms which may have fatal consequences such as heart attack.

Like Bulimia

Specialists on addictions developed particular typology of workaholics. For example a caretaker is a workaholic absolutely dedicated to helping other people. This type is frequent among doctors, nurses or social workers. Such person may be characterised by inability to refuse any call for help. He or she also feels guilty, empty and insignificant whenever being off duty. Another type – a perfectionist – is unable to delegate the work on others, since they could spoil the result. He may spend hours writing and checking one single email. So called pro-active type starts plenty of different activities at once and in consequent mess does not finish any of them. Similarly, impulsive workaholic is something like a bulimic. Getting a workaholic seizure, he starts many things and then panics after having realised what is ahead.

Stopping the Workhorse Ride

In comparison to alcohol, smoking or drugs, the treatment of workaholism might be complicated. One usually cannot simply abstain from working. In the early stage, the addict can manage the situation by liaising to his friends and family. In other cases, the therapy led by professionals should assist the victim to reconstruct life values, divide working sphere and privacy and dedicate comparable amounts of time to both of them. The workaholic must also get rid of bad habits: learn how to say “no” without the feelings of guilt, or how not to compete and win whatever the costs may be. One must be also sensitive to the signals of his or her own body. Cured workaholic should be able to assess the amount of work that he or she is able to finish on time without affecting his or her health or relationships.

Most cured workaholics accuse society of causing their misery. Nevertheless, just two centuries ago, certain form of “workaholism” was literary enforced by states on peasants and thus socially institutionalized. Maybe monetary and social motivation of successful employee status smoothly persuaded us to internalize values that slavery or feudalism failed to enforce in the past.

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