Monday, June 27, 2011

Signposts Are Not to Be Ignored

I'm working extremely hard at not working too hard these days. It's going well, as I have noted in earlier posts. Still, it's really important that I remain ever vigilant or the addictive working tendency could easily come back. After all, I've only been back at work for three weeks, part-time.

Part of my vigilance routine is reading literature about work addiction/workaholism, busy-aholism. And so on.

The literature from Workaholics Anonymous is useful for anybody, and I mean anybody, who simply does not know how to relax. I've shared some of the great WA literature in earlier posts dated June 13th and  June 16th. Tonight I thought I would share the following "signposts" from Workaholics Anonymous. I find this material fascinating, personally. If I had known about and paid attention to these signposts earlier, I probably wouldn't have hit the wall quite so hard a few months back.

But now I know.

Signposts of Workaholism
  1. We find it hard to love and accept ourselves. Work has become our means of gaining approval, finding our identity and justifying our existence.
  2. We use work to escape our feelings. Thus, we deprive ourselves of knowing what we truly want and need.
  3. By overworking, we neglect our health, relationships, recreation and spirituality. Even when we are not working, we are thinking of our next task. Most of our activities are work-related. We deny ourselves the enjoyment of a balanced and varied life.
  4. We use work as a way to deal with the uncertainties of life. We lie awake worrying; we over-plan and over-organize. By being unwilling to surrender control, we lose our spontaneity, creativity and flexibility.
  5. Many of us grew up in chaotic homes. Stress and intensity feel normal to us. We seek out these conditions in the workplace. We create crises and get adrenaline highs by overworking to resolve them. Then we suffer withdrawals and become anxious and depressed. Such mood swings destroy our peace of mind.
  6. Work has become an addiction. We lie to ourselves and to others about the amount we do. We hoard work to insure that we will always be busy and never bored. We fear free time and vacations and find them painful instead of refreshing.
  7. Instead of being a haven, our home is an extension of our workplace. Our family and friends often arrange their time with us around our work, vainly hoping we will finish it and then can be with them.
  8. We make unreasonable demands upon ourselves. We aren't aware of any difference between job-imposed and self-imposed pressure. By over-scheduling our lives, we become driven, racing to beat the clock, fearful that we will get behind, and binge-work in order to catch up. Our attention is fragmented by trying to do several things at once. Our inability to pace ourselves leads to breakdown and burnout. We rob ourselves of the enjoyment of conclusion and rest.
  9. We tend to be perfectionistic. We don't accept mistakes as part of being human and find it hard to ask for help. Because we believe no one can meet our standards, we have difficulty delegating and so do more than our share of the work. Thinking ourselves indispensable often prevents our progress. Unrealistic expectations often cheat us of contentment.
  10. We tend to be over-serious and responsible. All activity must be purposeful. We find it hard to relax and just be; we feel guilty and restless when not working. Because we often work at our play, we rarely experience re-creation and renewal. We neglect our sense of humor and rarely enjoy the healing power of laughter.
  11. Waiting is hard for us. We are more interested in results than process, in quantity than quality. Our impatience often distorts our work by not allowing it proper timing.
  12. Many of us are concerned with image. We think that looking busy makes people think we are important and gains their admiration. By seeking others' approval of us, we lose ourselves.
(I took this from the Workaholics Anonymous website, but it originally appears as pages 7-8 in the W.A. Book of Recovery).


  1. Interesting. This post made me think about someone who has just left my life. Hmmm...

  2. Hi Dawn, this is one of the most pertinent posts I've read in a long time. I hope you don't mind, but I have copied and pasted the steps in a word document on my computer for future reference. I know a lot of people who are in this pit! Best wishes and thanks for sharing.

  3. Elizabeth, I am so glad you found the information interesting. Share the word! It is true, a lot of people fall into this trap.

    Val, I know what you mean. I love you, BF.