A growing number of highly paid professionals are endangering their health by logging more than 60 hours per week, traveling regularly and responding to clients 24 hours a day.
Yet, despite the toll these hours take on their personal lives, two-thirds of the professionals surveyed say they love their jobs, according to a study, “Extreme Jobs: the Dangerous Allure of the 70-hour Workweek” co-authored by Sylvia Ann Hewlett president of the Center for Work Life Policy and Carolyn Buck Luce, Partner at Ernst & Young.
This is not surprising in a culture that really admires over-the-top pressure and over-the-top performance, Hewlett says, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Long hours are often the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur as well. Cynthia McKay, CEO of LeGourmet Gift Basket in Castle Rock, Colorado works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. But her hours are “absolutely my choice,” she told the Monitor. “I love being at work. It becomes a lifestyle as opposed to a job.”
Such personal fulfillment had its downside, Hewlett and Buck Luce found in their study. While 64 percent of those surveyed admitted that the workaholic lifestyle was their choice, 70 percent said it undermined their health, and brought on health issues related to stress. Fifty-nine percent said it gets in the way of relationships, MSNBC.com reports.
Bryan Robinson, a psychotherapist in Asheville, NC, and author of “Working Ourselves to Death: the High Costs of Workaholism and the Rewards of Recovery,” identifies the following five common traits that workaholics exhibit when their absorption with their jobs has begun to take over their lives. Some individuals may only have one of two of the traits but exhibit them to a very great degree.
1. Preoccupation with work
Workaholics may not be able to leave their work in the office and find that they can’t stop talking about work in social settings. Irv Flax, a director of Gorfine Schiller & Garcyn PA, a regional accounting firm, says that he finds himself taking about taxes, business and financing at social events.
2. Discomfort in delegating
Most workaholics want control and tend to think that only they can handle a task properly, says Gayle Porter, associate professor of management at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
3. Neglect other aspects of their life
Flax says that he is coming home to dinner more often because his daughter asked him to, but he then returns to the office. His wife says that she see his work as the “other woman.”
4. Merge other parts of their lives into work Workaholics may try to create businesses based on their hobbies. Robinson says he turned personal relationships into business projects.
5. “Sneaking” work
Like other addicts, Porter says, workaholics often try to hide their addiction. “If you find you have to lie to people about where you are or what you are doing, there is a problem,” she says.
Specialists recommend that hard-working and dedicated individuals take the following practical steps to make sure that their enthusiasm for their jobs is not threatening their health and relationships, careerjournal.com says:
- Set boundaries. After work hours, leave your BlackBerry in the car or turn it off. If you must check your work email, limit your log-ins. Eat lunch away from your desk, and don't bring work on vacation.
- Reframe your identity. At social events, practice introducing yourself and conversing without talking about your job or work.
- Track your habits. Keep a journal of daily activities, work and personal. Evaluate it once a month, looking for imbalances. Identify areas of your life you may need to dedicate more time to.