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Workaholism, the Disease of the XXI Century

Almost twenty years ago, people didn’t hear about the disease caused by the enormous will to work. Today it has got a simple name: workaholism. People who dedicate their lives to job 24/7 are called workaholics.

A Person Working

Definition of Workaholism

The dictionaries consider the term “workaholic” as a person who is dependent on a job compulsively and can’t imagine any minute without doing anything. He/She smiles guiltily, looking like “it-is-just-what-I-can-do”, shaking his/her head and giving a promise “next-time-this-won’t-happen”.

What Is Wrong About Workaholism?

Nobody can answer for sure, but one can definitely name its negative consequences:

  • When overworking extra hours, you should know that mostly they aren’t paid. But chiefs prefer watching their workers stay at work as long as it’s possible, showing their respect in this way. The efficiency from it might be very low.
  • Your relatives don’t understand you, because consider overworking to be not a normal thing.
  • It steals your personal time for rest or the time you could spend with your family and friends.
  • You think about job constantly, even on weekends. Your thoughts are filled with new projects, ideas and the work.
  • Your body suffers from the lack of sleep. All inner energy sources exhaust. That leads to physical and mental diseases.
  • Overworking means making mistakes frequently, because of the overpressure and reduced attention.
  • Time passes, enthusiasm wanes and there are no strengths left for a new effort. The workaholic exhausts emotionally.

If considering these cons about the workaholism, are you sure you want to devote your valuable life to work?

Historical Reference

I believe the answer will be negative. Even Henry Ford, who was a strict manager and really hard-working person, first introduced to the United States the 8-hour working day, 5-day working week and 10-day paid vacation for each worker.

Importance of Rest

Having rest is an essential necessity for each person. Due to the balance of working hours and time for rest, the human’s organism can cope with overstressing. Otherwise, a workaholic may face such diseases as anxiety, mild depression, chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, apathy, sleep loss as well as some intimacy problems, etc. Sacrificing own health on behalf of success, high salary, improvement of financial situation or some other things, a workaholic confuses the term hard work with overwork. However, they are not the same. There exists a huge difference.

Having Rest

Sense of Life

Workaholics see whole life in the work process. It is their sense of life.

They don’t need a lame excuse like “It is my job”. They can’t imagine themselves not doing something, not being on the edge of stress and not breaking off any contacts with normal life. They can’t rest as common people, who like reading books or chatting with friends, watching TV shows or visiting museums.

Some Main Reasons for Workaholism

The main reasons of workaholism are the following:

  • Psychological problems: low self-esteem, loneliness, fear of communication and hence the lack of communication.
  • Family problems: avoidance of solving family problems.
  • Ignoring personal problems or trying to compensate the loss.

Ways to Heal Workaholism:

  • Spend as much time as it is possible with the family and closest friends.
  • Give to a workaholic the hint that everyone loves him/her.
  • Do some household duties together.
  • Go to see a doctor and take the prescription drug list.
  • Be creative and do whatever you want to get away from the thought about the work.
  • Try to avoid staying at work till late or taking some work to home. That is the way to destroy yourself as a personality and to become the workaholic in the end.

Workaholism vs. True Work Engagement

So, we have made out that workaholism implies literal obsession with the work a person does due to their jobs and the duties stipulated by the respective regulations. At the same time, all of us have heard many stories of successful people who worked much and hard, but achieved their goals and went down in history. Oh, yes, and we all have certainly read all those numerous articles about world-famous scientists and businessmen who slept only 4-6 hours a day, and the rest of 18-20 hours was spent on bringing great ideas and plans into life, that is on work.

This is where we should better stop and think for a while: can our true excitement at the work we do be connected or even cause the unhealthy concern about the amount of this work we do per one day, our boss’s attitude to us, the money we will get for this month and so on? Now let us pay more attention to the adjective “unhealthy” and discuss the differences between the real disease and true engagement in the work.

Aspect #1: Reasons for Work So Much

Well, we all need to work and to earn money for living. The question why we need money and whether it can make us happy or not is considered rather rhetorical, so we should better put it off until some better times come. Still, let us see how the reasons for working long hours can differ depending on whether you are a workaholic or just a work-engaged guy.



  • works for money; but the problem is that such person may not realize what exactly they need this money for (basic needs do not count);
  • may not be able to cope with all tasks within the normal working time because he/she cannot manage it in the right way;
  • wants to earn the boss’s and colleagues’’ respect but usually fails.
  • works not only for money but also to gain more experience or for self-development;
  • may have some ideas and plans which are connected with his/her duties but are based on their own initiative and that is why require extra time;
  • knows why he/she needs this job and works for personal needs, but for somebody else.

Student Working at Cafe

Aspect #2: Motivation for Work

Despite the fact that reasoning and motivating may seem to be synonymous notions, there is a difference between them. Sometimes, you may need some motivation to come up with some reasons to do something. That is to say, you need something that could help you realize why you are working. So, the motivation often “generates” the reason.

Workaholic’s Motivation

Work-Engaged Person’s Motivation

  • again, the idea that more work can bring more money;
  • the conviction that he/she must do this work and it can never wait until the next day.

However, workaholics’’ motivation is usually very weak: they really do not know why they want to work so much.

  • the opportunities to fulfill his/her dreams;
  • understanding of the fact that they can get even more new possibilities;
  • the wish to show what they can and to learn something new.

Aspect #3: Emotions During and After Work

The emotions we connect with our work have very significant influence not only on our performance but also on our general well-being. The mood in which you wake up in the morning realizing that in two hours you must be at the office is very important. The mood in which you are doing your work can determine your productivity. And the feelings you have after you leave the office in the evening do influence your morning mood. That is just a vicious circle.

Workaholic’s Emotions

Work-Engaged Person’s Emotions

  • anxiety;
  • guilt;
  • disappointment;
  • anger and irritation;
  • tense;
  • hostility.
  • enthusiasm;
  • joviality;
  • healthy excitement;
  • self-assurance;
  • attentiveness;
  • happiness.

Aspect #4: A Look from the Outside

In most cases a person who has literally dived into their work cannot notice the differences, happening in their life, until someone really caring or simply offended by their impatience and constant excuses for being so busy just tells them about or at least hints them at these changes.

Workaholic’s Life Changes

Work-Engaged Person’s Life Changes

  • there is hardly anyone he/she communicates with when not at the office;
  • he/she sacrifices not only sleep but also hobbies and/or family duties;
  • he/she may stop caring about his/her appearance;
  • he/she may not be interested in the latest news unless it concerns his/her work directly.
  • he/she tends to weed out those people who either envy them or do not try to accept their engagement in and excitement at the work;
  • he/she spends less time on hobbies and sets exact time for fulfilling some family duties, but still does not abandon them;
  • he/she can see the progress after some part of the work is completed, and this is the evidence of his/her success, which can lead to promotion or more profitable offers.

Workaholism and Students

Even though the phenomenon of workaholism is mostly related to adult people who are employed, we cannot deny the fact that students also suffer both over-studying and over-working, as some of them combine study and work. So, all the things mentioned above can be true for students as well if we only change the word “work” to “study” and the word “colleagues” to “group mates”.

If you know such person or you realize that you are becoming a workaholic, you must take measures as soon as possible. The ways to heal workaholism are mostly the same, regardless of the factors that cause the problem. Remember that we work to live but we do not live to work. Life is a great thing actually, and it does exist behind the walls of your college or company building.

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