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Consequences & Defenses of Workaholism, Plus Quiz. (Work-Life Balance Series: Part 4)

Workaholism goes unnoticed because it is easily excused as "just doing my job," "getting ahead," "dealing with running my own business," and “growing pains.” As with any addiction, it’s generally not until the consequences are severe that we begin to take a serious look at what’s going on.

The following outlines the dismal outcomes for a workaholic:

Summary of significant outcomes of workaholism. A positive sign (+) indicates a significant positive relationship with workaholism, a negative sign (-) indicates a significant negative relationship, and ns indicates a nonsignificant relationship. Adapted from Clark, Michel, Zhdanova, Pui & Baltes (in press).

But wait! (drumroll)... There is more! Research shows that workaholism is linked to alcoholism, sleep problems, premature death, ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, and weight gain. In addition, marriages involving a workaholic are twice as likely to end in divorce.

So, WHY would anyone continue to work as they do if they are experiencing so many problems? Welcome to the magic of the human brain!

The addict’s addiction is always the last place they look when defining the causes of their problems. In their mind, their addiction is there to help solve their problems!

"Wild, right?"

What problems does workaholism solve for the workaholic? Believe it or not, workaholism initially helps a person feel important, powerful, safe, and successful and NOT feel lazy, loser-ish, anxious, depressed, and pointless.

"Sounds dandy, right?"

This is the intelligent intention behind working oneself to death and staying so busy. But, as with all neurotic behaviors, it is not very effective in the long run. While I may FEEL like I am making progress by paddling upstream in whitewater, I am really just paddling hard, getting tired, and going nowhere. There is a mismatch between effort and performance. Research shows that workaholic performance is NOT any better than non-workaholic performance! That's an important message, so I repeat: research shows that workaholic performance is NOT any better than non-workaholic performance!

The "work," then, is to increase your ability to feel important, powerful, safe, successful, competent, relaxed, and happy without addictively clinging to work. 92% of us do just that. Meanwhile, 8% of us are workaholic.

If you are curious if you may be one of the 8%, take this test formulated by workaholism expert Bryan Robinson:


Are you somewhat or very workaholic? If so, fear not! All you must do is redirect some of your energy towards those shifting those traits, habits, coping mechanisms, and environmental factors driving your workaholism.

If you like to read, check out my other blogs on this topic.

If you prefer one-on-one help creating a personalized action plan, I invite you to a free consultation.

Or, you might be interested in joining my Work/Life Balance group, starting January 8th. Click here for details!

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