Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Am I a workaholic?

I've been back at work for not quite a year and a half. I've been the breadwinner since September. I am managing people for the first time, charged with turning around the sales of a failing business division. I am in meetings 30 hours a week. I get over a hundred new emails per day, on a good day. I wear a ton of hats at work, and jump from project to project many times throughout the day. I travel on average once a month.

I love it - I love learning and being challenged and figuring out strategy and helping a team come together and seeing our hard work reflected in our numbers. I love feeling like I'm contributing to something larger than me and supporting my family and putting my education and experience to work. I feel weird about the idea of retiring in 12 years (almost twenty years early) given how much I wanted to be back in the workforce.

But sometimes, when I am answering emails or correcting proofs at 10 p.m. or 6 a.m. because I didn't have time to sit at my desk all day long, I wonder if it's all too much. I think I draw pretty firm boundaries - I come in at 9 and leave by 5 every day. I do not have work email pinging my phone. I tend to not work on weekend days. Most evenings, I do an hour or two of work simply to stay on top of things. Each time it gets really busy, I think, well, it's just this project and it will get better after the deadline. Which is always true, until another big project comes along.

My dad is a workaholic. He has worked 16 hour days as long as I've known him. He does not take vacations. When I visited him as a child for two weeks in the summer, sometimes I wouldn't see him except for dinner the entire time. When he came to meet Pickle, when she was in an incubator fighting for her life, he brought his laptop and worked from the hospital. When he had a major health scare a few years ago, he swore he was going to cut back, and he did change some of his eating habits, but he is still in the office before sunrise and leaves after dark. And I believe that he really loves what he does, but I don't think he's been happy a day in his life. His work IS his life.

I'm trying to keep that difference in mind. My work is what I do and how awesome that I get this chance, but even when I am pulling out my laptop before bed, I have to ask myself why am I doing this. Is it because the place will fall down without me? (no) Is it because I can't interact with my family because I don't know who they are? (no) Is it because people at work schedule too many meetings and not enough time to do the work that comes out of those meetings? (yes) Is it because I'm not delegating enough? (possibly)

The minute I feel like I NEED to do work outside of work or else the whole house of cards will come crashing down, I will know that it's gone too far and I need to change direction. But I don't want to get all the way to that point - I want to catch it before I lose myself to my job. As a person, I always feel like I need to be busy and productive; I have a hard time not doing something. Even on my days off at home I have a to-do list of one kind or another. So it's a fine line that I feel like I'm always balancing.

Do you worry about being a workaholic? How do you watch out for that tendency?

1 comment:

  1. I struggle with this. I'm naturally a workaholic but I need to balance myself because I do get burned out. I like standing out at the top because of my stellar performance. I genuinely like doing a good job. But I also want to be a good mother and wife and friend so I strive for balance.

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