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Are you addicted to your work? I know I am!

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

I am on holiday but tell that to my brain.

All I can think about is work - blogs I want to write, workshops I want to run in 2018, how I am going to market my coaching business, books I want to read, systems I need to implement, the course I have signed up for at the end of January.... and the list goes on.

In the weeks leading up to being on holiday, I was gleefully setting aside tasks that need thinking time - because what better way to spend my holiday than thinking, planning and creating all the things I haven't had a chance to do in 2017?

I tried to disconnect my work brain - but I don't think I made it longer than 36 hours.

Does anyone else have this problem?

At the core of me I also want to ask... is this a problem? Is it really such a bad thing to completely live for my work especially when I am in year 1 of my new business?

This is not a new thing for me though. I have always been like this. For as long as I have been working, I have been immersed in my work. If I am not working, I am thinking about work, I dream about work, I talk about work, I ask people about their work, and I struggle to identify with people who don't immerse themselves in their work.

But I also over did it some time back. I got to a point where all I did was work, but it was no longer feeding my soul, it was no longer feeding my sense of purpose. My love of work turned into a fear of work. Fear? Yes, I was scared that my work no longer loved me back, that I was no longer competent in the one place where I had always felt accomplished and talented. At first the fear triggered me to work even harder, but slowly but surely the fear became anger and resentfulness. In the process, I felt I was starting to become a person that I didn't like or know at all.

It was like I had lost my core.

The only answer I could see was to make a complete 180 degree change - and not work for a while so that I could work on resetting my balance. It made sense because if fear is the opposite of love, instead of opening myself up to a different way of doing things, I closed myself off entirely to protect myself.

When I resigned from my job almost two years ago, I had this impression that I would become a much more balanced person and that I would no longer BE my work.

And now here I am 5 days into my holiday, writing a blog because I can't think of anything else I would prefer to be doing.

I know I am not alone because there is no shortage of articles on breaking work addictions.

But here's the thing, I know that my work addiction is not healthy, it's not productive, and I can see that I am starting to repeat a cycle that I have been in before, one where I start to define my worth by my work. I am also aware of my husband saying "What on earth can you be doing that has your nose in your phone/laptop all day?". I am aware that as much as I love my work, I am so much more than what I do. I recognise that I would benefit hugely from doing more (read: any) exercise, that my dogs need a walk, and that some cerebral downtime would be really good for me - in fact it would build up my resilience for the year ahead.

So like any addict, I need to take the first step and acknowledge my addiction:

Hi! I am Briony and I am addicted to work!

And now what am I going to do about it?

Well firstly I know that it is almost impossible to break a bad habit, but it is possible to replace it with a good habit. I also know that if I can identify the trigger for my bad habit (ie going straight to my laptop), then I can replace that habit with an alternative. And thirdly I know that I need to reward myself for choosing to take a positive action.

So for the next 10 days, this is my plan:

  • When I open the front door to let the dogs out in the morning (trigger), instead of making coffee which then leads to opening up my laptop, I am going to go outside and play with the dogs for 15 minutes (new action). I will then reward myself with a cup of coffee.

  • I have five things that I really want to get done this holiday:

  • I want to box up and donate to charity what feels like a room full of books, clothes and old tech that has collected over the last year or two

  • I want to refurbish an old coffee table that is currently looking rather dilapidated

  • I want to get my veggie garden sorted out again

  • I want to sort out a year's worth of photos and get some of these printed, framed and displayed in our house

  • I want to tidy up my study to use as a functional work space for 2018

  • Each time I complete one of these projects, I will reward myself. At the moment the reward feels like it will be "some laptop time", but I am really hoping to replace that with some time to read a novel, watch a favourite TV programme, go out for dinner with my husband or sit on the patio drinking a gin and tonic.

Definitely time to make use of this holiday to restore some balance to my life!

Are you addicted to your work?

How do you disconnect from work over the holidays?


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