The simple definition of a workaholic is “a person who compulsively works hard and long hours.”
Well, I can tell you as a workaholic that it so much more complicated than that. If you’re a fellow workaholic, you know what I am talking about: it’s not about the hours, it is about that compulsive drive to succeed. If you’re a workaholic like me, you’re far from alone, and you’ll also understand these struggles more than most. If you have a workaholic in your life, you might not understand how these struggles affect us.
We are Often Misunderstood
People think that just because you work long hours, you are automatically a workaholic. That’s not the case. You might just not be good at what you do, so it takes you longer to do it. Being a workaholic isn’t about time – it is about passion. I don’t spend 12-14 hours a day working because I don’t have better things to do. I do it because I want to be the best at everything I do. Working for me is security. It’s comfort. It’s how I control my destiny. Yes, there is enjoyment in working hard for a workaholic, but it’s not the same enjoyment we would get from doing something like fishing or sitting on a beach. It’s the enjoyment of accomplishment and fulfillment from completing tasks and goals. It’s actually harder for us to enjoy things like a vacation or minor escape, because when we aren’t working – we are thinking about work.
Relationships are Harder for Us
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a workaholic, you know exactly how difficult it can be. The long hours, the constant work, the inability to detach. It takes a lot of patience to be in a relationship with a workaholic. What people don’t realize, is that from our point of view – it is just as hard. We want to spend time with our loved ones. We want to spend time with our friends. We don’t enjoy disappointing people in our lives with our absence, or distracted nature. In fact, a lot of the people we are absent from are the exact reasons we work so hard. Parents providing for families, people furthering themselves to take care of the people around them, people working for stability in their lives. It’s a sacrifice of sorts, because often times by trying to take care of the people in our lives by working as hard as we do, we ruin the very relationships we are working for.
We are Dreamers
Being a dreamer isn’t as much fun as it sounds. For workaholics specifically, it is the constant focus on the future that makes it hard to appreciate the present. Being a dreamer can make you not appreciate what it is that you have because it isn’t what you want. Which then leads to you working even harder to achieve those goals.
Dating is Nearly Impossible for Us
If you think being in a relationship with a workaholic is hard, trying being a workaholic and establishing a new relationship. It’s hard to explain to someone that you can’t just drop whatever it is that you’re in the middle of and escape for something as simple as a meal or coffee. It just doesn’t work like for us. Spontaneity is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have, and workaholics are often viewed as boring because being spontaneous is hard for us.It’s harder for us to connect with people because of our limited time away from what we are doing. And, to be honest, when we do walk away from work – a lot of times we just want to be alone and decompress. All of these hurdles are why a lot of workaholics are single. Whether they want to be or not.
It is a Cycle that is Hard to Break
If you noticed, in a couple of these specific examples there are cycles. In relationships: you work hard for your partner, which causes trouble in the relationship. With dreaming: your desires make your real-life seem lacking which makes you work harder. I think that’s the hardest part of being a workaholic to explain. I work hard to get ahead and as soon as I do, I work harder to keep getting ahead. Our obsession with work affects our lives, and therefore, we work harder to solve those problems – when the real problem is the work itself.
So, again, if you’re a workaholic like me, just know that you’re not alone. That same passion that drives you to work your ass off can be applied in other areas of life, I promise. The first step to breaking that cycle is realizing the effects your workaholic nature is having on you and the people around you. Just like with everything else in life, a happy medium between working and living does exist. You just have to work to find it :)