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Contrary to Popular Belief, Work Addiction is Bad


"If we push people away because of work, then we're finally free; there will be no friends left...only plenty of time for work."

-Simon Sinek


Let me tell you a story about a woman I'll call "Laura." Laura runs her own firm and employs a couple of employees. Laura gets up and starts working from home before going into the office. Laura works at the office until 6 or 7 pm, before going home and working until 11 pm. She does this five days each week and then works both Saturday and Sunday.

About once per, year Laura goes on vacation but works the whole time. She makes sure to call twice every day to check-in.

It turns out, Laura doesn't need to work that much. She has employees in place to help. She confuses unimportant with urgent work.

Let me tell you another story about a man I'll call "Bill." Bill works well over 100 hours per week. On a typical day, he gets up around 3:30 am and gets ready for his day, working four jobs. At the end of the day, he gets to sleep around 11:30 pm so he can get a few hours of rest before doing it again the next day. As he's falling asleep, he says to himself that, "I'm exhausted, but at least they can't call me lazy."

It occurs to Bill that he doesn't know who "they" are, just that he feels an enormous pressure so "they" don't think he's lazy.

Workaholism is a disconnect between values and vocation


It turns out workaholism is not an addition to workahol (I've always wondered why "aholism" is added to addicting substances and behaviors - is anyone really addicted to chocohol?). Instead, workaholism is an emotional attachment to working. Also, there is usually a severe discomfort that comes from not working.

We Are the Problem

You might be thinking that you know people who sink all their time into their work. You might know people who brag about how much they work. "I'm always busy; gotta get to work!" You might even notice that people who work too much tend to be praised by others - "She's such a hard worker. I really respect that." Workaholism is the only money-related issue that's celebrated in western culture. This is a problem; it makes it difficult to understand that it's an issue. Conversely, it can cast a shadow on those who don't work as much. Some people can feel like they are lazy or be perceived as lazy because they aren't working so much.

On the society-approval scale, workaholism ranks toward the top. People don't seek out help for work addiction in the same way they might seek out help for gambling addiction.

society approves of workaholism


There can be a perception among many who suffer from work addiction that they'll get more money by working harder. The hope, then, is that once they make more money, get another promotion, sell more widgets, or land another client, that they will finally be happy. Or they'll finally be able to afford that new lifestyle. Or they finally won't be considered lazy. At some level, the belief is that they will be more satisfied by working more.

we think working leads to satisfaction


The reality is that, once you move out of poverty, more money doesn't add to your happiness. Affording a new lifestyle only means that the new goal will be an even bigger house or a more expensive car. And if you've developed a money script that says you're lazy unless your working, then no amount of hours spent at the office is going to fulfill you.

extra work does not lead to satisfaction

We All Have 24 Hours

Everybody has the same number of hours in a day and the same number of days in a week. Time is finite, and no matter how much you have or don't have, time doesn't discriminate. You can think of time as a pie. You can divvy up the pie however you want, but you can't make the pie bigger.

we all have the same time

The Time-Pie Doesn't Grow

It's a simple concept, but an important one. An hour spent working is an hour you can't spend playing with your kids. Every day you spent in the office is a day you can't use toward personal growth. Once the majority of your pie starts going toward work, you lose the ability to allocate your time to what's important to you.

spending more time at work leaves less time for things that are important to you

The first step is acknowledging that work addiction can have negative consequences. Once you have that awareness, you can start taking steps to move your use of time to areas of your life that are fulfilling.

You only have one life - live intentionally.

organize your financial mess

Read More:


Brad Klontz, Ted Klontz: Mind Over Money

Brad Klontz, Rick Kahler, Ted Klontz: Facilitating Financial Health


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© 2019 Money Health Solutions, LLC



About the Author

Derek Hagen, CFA, CFP, FBS, CFT-I, CIPM is a speaker, writer, and coach specializing in financial psychology, meaning and valued living, resilience, and mindfulness.


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