The Telltale Signs of Work Addiction was originally published on Firsthand.
Having an income is just one of the components of a successful life, and work can mean many different things to different people. Some people take their hobby and turn it into a career, while others work their way up the corporate ladder or start their own business. Whether you’re in it for the passion or the glory, the drive to succeed can sometimes lead to a treacherous detour called work addiction—here are the signs to watch out for.
You Work Too Much
This first one might seem obvious, but it’s often difficult to tell whether you’re working too much after it’s already become a habit. If your employer is pretty cool with you putting in your 40 hours a week but you’re consistently pushing yourself to work 10 or more hours a day, you’re highly likely to experience burnout, among other negative effects.
It can be easy to fall into the pattern of “the more time I put in, the better my work will be and the more my boss will like me,” and while this isn’t necessarily untrue, if you’re suffering from burnout because you’re constantly working long hours, your productivity will take a nose dive, you’ll be far more stressed, and you’ll be susceptible to issues such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, if you’re working too much you’ll have less time to spend with friends and family, which can damage your personal relationships—this leads us to our next entry.
Your Friends and Family Make Comments
As with all types of addictions, they often become apparent to those on the outside before the addict realizes what’s going on. If friends and family members are starting to make comments such as “you work too much” or “you should really take some time off,” it could be a sign that people in your life are noticing that something’s off.
If this is the case, take the time to listen to your friends and family members, as their concerns are genuine. An outsider’s perspective is often of great value, since they aren’t as close to the situation and can examine it without bias. With anything in life, it’s incredibly important to face issues head on, and having the support of family members and trusted friends is integral to our personal development.
Taking Off Stresses You Out
Even if you never make plans to take off from work, there are certain scenarios where you might have no choice. It could be a wedding, a family emergency, an illness, or jury duty, but even when you have a perfectly good reason for an absence that is totally acceptable by your employer’s standards, you find yourself stressed and fearful that you’re missing work.
Paid time off is meant to be used. Taking pride in your work and striving to succeed is important, but it isn’t all there is to life. Imagine attending your best friend’s wedding and in that moment, all you can think about is an upcoming deadline for a project—this is a major problem. If you’re so consumed with work that you can’t enjoy any other aspects of your life, you won’t be able to forge meaningful relationships or make any memories to look back on.
You’re Losing Your Identity
Our beliefs, passions, hobbies, interests, and the people in our lives are just some of the many parts of us that make us unique individuals. For many of us, a career also makes that list, but it’s not the be-end and end-all. Balance in all things is incredibly important to emotional maturity and well-being, as well as to a fulfilling life.
Along with your career, make sure that you’re living your authentic life. Take the time to engage in your hobbies and spend time with friends and family, while also giving yourself plenty of that all-important alone time to relax and recharge. When you strike a fair balance between work and your personal life, you’ll reduce stress and your life will feel more purposeful.
Your Health is Suffering
Your tendency to overwork yourself can do some serious damage to your emotional and physical health. For starters, the stress of work can lead to inconsistent sleep patterns, fatigue, and hypertension, among many other negative effects. If your physical heath is already suffering, it won’t get any better if you continue to push yourself, and you might find yourself unable to get to work if things get bad enough.
We’ve already talked about the potential for emotional issues such as anxiety and depression, but it’s worth mentioning that conditions such as depression can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on your life. Depression can affect everything from your productivity at work to your personal relationships. In certain cases, it can lead to thoughts of suicide or worse, and no one deserves to feel that way. If you feel your mental health is suffering as a result of working too much, take action immediately.
Indeed, work addiction can negatively affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life. It’s important to watch out for the warning signs, while drawing the distinction between overzealousness and addiction. If you feel like something’s wrong don’t ignore it, and if people in your life are noticing a change in you, it’s worth taking the time to listen.