From a young age, we are told that working hard leads to success. The story goes that you can do anything you want as long as you believe in yourself and work hard enough.
But the narrative leaves out the differences between a high performer and a “workaholic.” After all, is it possible to work too hard or too much? Most people would likely believe that it is possible to work too hard. In fact, most of know a few of those “too hard” workers ourselves. While some people have no trouble balancing their work lives and personal lives, for others, that reality is hard to achieve. There’s too much work to be done and too little time to finish it.
It’s typically not too difficult for us to spot the workaholics around us, but what about ourselves? That might be a little trickier. In fact, if you are busy with work and deadlines, you might not have enough reflection time to consider whether you are working more than you need to be.
So, how do you tell if you are a workaholic? Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Your Priorities Don’t Include Personal Values
Do you tend to drop personal things from your list of priorities when work meetings and deadlines come up? High performers value their home and personal lives just as much (if not more than) their work lives. They keep dinner plans, relax with family, and find time for themselves. Workaholics, on the other hand, cannot keep their personal values on their priority lists when meetings and assignments pop up. They lose that time with their families and for themselves to their endless amounts of work.
You Work Through Meals
Are you constantly skipping meals with friends, family, and colleagues to sit at your desk and work on another assignment while you grab lunch or dinner? While it’s okay to do this every once in awhile during busy weeks, it’s not the best thing to do on a regular basis. You should be able to get away from your work for an hour to take a break, refuel yourself, and interact with those around you.
Does your work (and stress) follow you home? When you leave the office for the day, you should be able to leave your work where it came from. If you are always bringing home more tasks or experiencing stress when you are not at work, you’re probably working too hard and too much. You should also be aware of when it’s acceptable not to give your 100%. Workaholics exert all of their effort during the entire work day (and even sometimes after work) every day they are at work. Doing so, however, is extremely difficult and can have negative effects on your health.
You Notice Changes in Your Health
Speaking of your health, if you notice it has gone downhill, you may be noticing another sign of working too hard. Stress can have many health consequences, especially when your stress is recurring and long-lasting. Your body can handle a healthy amount of stress, but with anymore than that, you’ll start feeling the consequences of working too hard.
You Have Trouble Accepting Failure
Not everything you do will be perfect. You will make mistakes and experience failure, but what sets apart high performers from workaholics is how you handle those setbacks. You should be able to accept them as part of your journey towards success and achievement. Workaholics, however, tend to be perfectionists and have trouble accepting mistakes and failures, making it difficult to find satisfaction in their work.
If these signs sound familiar, you may be over working yourself. Take some time to self-reflect, take a break, and start fresh.