When you own a small business, it's all too easy to become a workaholic. The demands of a sole proprietorship are huge and endless. After all, none of your employees care about the business the way you do. And if you don't have employees, you're much more likely to work around the clock because there isn't anyone you can delegate tasks to.
Bryan Robinson, retired University of North Carolina psychology professor and author, was a workaholic himself he says. His latest book, Chained to the Desk (NY University Press), makes the point that a job can easily overpower family life. He and other social psychologists call workaholism a pathology.
The term "workaholic" may suggest devotion from corporate employees and necessity from the self-employed, but it is also linked to sleep disorders, heart attacks and strokes. So pervasive has the phenomena become that a workaholics anonymous patterned after alcoholics anonymous has even sprung up (www.workaholics-anonymous.org), complete with reliance on a "higher power."
For example, Richard Boyatzis, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and author, explored workaholism as the topic for his 2005 book, Resident Leadership. He found that chronic stress pushes people into a spiraling syndrome of long hours, frantic effort and increasing incompetence. As workaholics work harder, they alienate their families, friends and social contacts. Overwork leads to unhealthy eating habits and weariness from lack of sleep. Healthy exercise is out of the question. Furthermore, this addiction to work can interfere with family life, leaving spouses and children feeling neglected, even emotionally abused.
Robinson even claims that the work-obsessed don't do their work as well. He says, "They expect too much from others, interfere with their duties and worry themselves to distraction. Workaholics have trouble delegating. They look over other people's shoulders. They suffer burnout."
It sounds dire. But don't confuse the work-addicted to those that just work hard when necessary. As long as there's a healthy balance between work and family/social life, you're probably not a workaholic.
Here are Bryan Robinson's 12 prominent signs of workaholism:
•Rarely delegating or asking for help.
•Showing impatience at others' work.
•Often doing two, three or more tasks at the same time.
•Committing to work; biting off more than one can chew.
•Feeling guilty and/or lost when not at work.
•Focusing on results, not the task.
•Focusing on planning, ignoring the here and now.
•Continuing to work after others quit.
•Imposing pressure-filled deadlines.
•Attending more to work than to relationships.
•Lacking hobbies, social interests.
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