How can you tell if you’re a workaholic?
In our culture, being committed to your career is a badge of honor. And I agree that hard work is a virtue and diligence is commendable. We are each called to be good stewards of the talents we have received.
But even good things, when taken to excess, can be harmful. There is a fine line between dedication to your profession and becoming a workaholic. How do you know when your work is becoming something more than it should? Here are three questions I’ve learned to ask myself to gauge whether I have a healthy connection to my job:
Are you hoping in work for meaning?
There is an important distinction to make between hoping for success and hoping in success. Hoping for success is certainly natural. Hoping in success means you cannot live without it. Hoping in success is when you need success to provide meaning in your life.
Are you constantly seeking more and more and more? Always reaching for the next rung on the ladder and discontent with the present? Hoping in your work means equating identity with career.
Is work displacing more important priorities?
For a workaholic, work competes with faith, marriage, family, friends, health and community. When faced with a choice, work wins. Consider how you invest in the people you love. When you’re with your loved ones, are you disengaged and antsy to get back to your desk? When you’re at church, are you planning out the work-week in your mind? Do you regularly turn down invitations from dear friends in lieu of work? Are you known to back out of commitments at a moment’s notice due to a work “emergency”? These could be signs that your work has displaced more important priorities.
Can you rest?
In the Jewish tradition, Sabbath rest is observed weekly, whether work is complete or not. Today, Sabbath practices aren’t a part of most people’s rhythms, even though rest makes everything we do more fruitful. Real genuine rest — and rest does not mean laying in bed as you tackle email on your smartphone — is integral. Getting quality shut-eye is important, of course, but rest is not limited to getting a good night’s sleep. When you’re on a vacation, can you truly unplug and enjoy time away? Do you find joy and value in time spent away from work? When we rest, we exercise our faith in God. Rest requires faith: recognizing that your success is not all up to you.
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