For workaholics who don’t believe in work-life balance
People who achieve success definitely don’t practice work-life balance. Talent, luck, timing, and connections can contribute but one thing is certain: they work a lot. I don’t mean forty-hour workweeks. Try more like sixty or more hours.
Let’s look at the work habits of some of the greatest achievers in different areas: Elon Musk, Oprah, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, Kobe Bryant, Jeff Bezos, Lady Gaga, Vanessa Williams, and Meryl Streep. What do they all have in common? They work a very high number of hours and they have sacrificed much of their private lives to get to where they are.
In an interview, Bill Gates said that company founders should not take vacations in the early years of the business.
Mark Zuckerburg famously wears the same clothes as a uniform to save his energy to focus on his company.
Jeff Bezos openly talks about his work ethics to build Amazon that includes long work hours.
According to research released by The Huffington Post, people spend 13 years of their life working. In fact, it takes second place after sleeping. We work more than we eat, exercise, love, or relax. Work is life. Or is it? And should it be? Is working a lot an illness we should try to recover from? Or is it perfectly ok to work more than anything else?
I decided to survey my network on Linkedin:
Is it ok to be obsessed with your work and to work long hours?
People hate surveys. I expected to get only a few replies. To my surprise, I received over 800 answers and 17,000 views in only 14 hours! It turns out that many people want to know about this topic.
The majority (56%) voted NO. It is not ok to overwork and people should aim for work/life balance. This doesn’t surprise me because it is the way I suspected most people feel. After all, we usually work primarily for a paycheck and want to enjoy our time off.
A minority (34%) voted YES. It is ok to work long hours. I was surprised that this percentage was that higher. Maybe because many of my friends are business owners or self-employed. They notoriously work longer hours.
The last category (10%) said IT DEPENDS. While sometimes one must work long hours, it is not ok all of the time. Some said it is possible to have both.
While 34% are willing to work long hours, I think only very few people would make the extreme sacrifices it takes to become number one in their field.
Who is right?
The best answer is the one that will lead you to where you see yourself wanting to be without sacrificing too much. It really is about ambition and values.
Do you live to work or work to live?
Workaholics are highly ambitious types driven by a burning desire inside of them to achieve wealth, fame, and leave a legacy for their kids. Their egos are also bigger than most and they thrive on recognition, power, admiration, and attention. They are only happy when they feel they are making an impact.
Non-Workaholics value work-life balance much more than making money. They enjoy healthy lifestyles filled with family, friends, and time dedicated to hobbies. They may have smaller wages so they live modestly and call themselves minimalists. They are happy with this type of work situation.
Both are right. Workaholics can be perfectly fine if they follow a few rules to avoid burnout.
Work on Your Ego
Workaholics struggle with a few or all of these problems:
- Monkey Mind
True success is only achievable when you work on yourself. Practicing humility is a huge one in my opinion since most entrepreneurs struggle with their egos.
Read These Workaholics’ Books
I also highly recommend a few books made with workaholics in-mind. They teach how to prioritize and balance a workload while maintaining a strong focus on profitability and success and to avoid burnout :
These books will help ambitious professionals to live a more balanced life without compromising on results.
Hire the Best People You Can Afford
Every entrepreneur or manager must eventually hire others. Workaholics are notorious for not wanting to delegate but successful people know how to delegate. Being a micromanager or a jack-of-all-trades only leads to burnout.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” — Steve Jobs
Schedule Appointments With Friends, Family, and Yourself
Even Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, goes home in-time to have dinner with her kids, despite being an executive for a multimillion-dollar business. It doesn’t have to be dinner. Some business people who have breakfast with their kids and then work late. Find ways to make it work. Your loved ones will thank you for it. Ultimately, you will cherish those moments and if you plan it well, it won’t affect negatively your work. Do the same thing with friends. Lastly, schedule time for yourself. Force yourself to do one exciting non-work thing per month.
Set A Few Phone Rules
Are you guilty of always checking your phone? Phone addiction is real. It is not only unhealthy; it can destroy your relationships. Especially for a workaholic, it is too difficult to resist checking text messages and emails. Do whatever it takes to break the habit of constantly checking your work emails or taking work calls at home. Learning to unplug is important not only for workaholics but for the entire family.
Learn How to Detox Your Mind & Focus On One Thing At a Time
This is the toughest one of all. I call it my “zoom”. Like a camera, you can either zoom out to see everything around (wide-angle lens) or zoom in to see in greater detail one thing only (macro lens). In a fast-paced world of multi-tasking, deadlines, and distractions, we struggle to focus.
I learned a thing or two by following The Slow Movement philosophy and trying to stop rushing. Take a clue from Europeans where meals can easily take three hours and even adults nap!
Another therapeutic practice for the workaholic is Mindfulness. Living in the moment is a very powerful tool to help workaholics. Being mindful will clear from brain up from unnecessary activities and allow you to focus better.
Journaling is a technique my first coach taught me. Getting out all your thoughts onto paper can be such a relief for the workaholic. Now I have an entire collection of pretty notebooks and I look forward to my journaling time. This is the moment you can write out your visions and dreams for the future. If you make it a regular habit, it will change your life.
Lastly, daily Meditation does wonders for concentration and attentiveness. I became serious about meditating at home after attending a yoga retreat. During that retreat, we mediated daily and a calm came over me like I’d not felt in years. I slept like a baby. I’d wake up at dawn without effort. My mind was sharp and clear. I highly recommend checking out a guided meditation application. If you are new to meditation, an app like Headspace can really help.
Have A Real End Goal In Mind
I saved the best for last: Focus on what you want to achieve and work towards it. This will prevent you from working mindlessly long hours out of sheer habit or chasing wealth just for the sake of it. Then you will also know when you can rest. Most ambitious people schedule their personal lives around their work goals. It is also a great way to manage your family and friend’s expectations and commitments. If you can tell them you can spend time “after the product launch/book release/tour, etc’, this will help with your relationships too. As long as you actually follow through on your promises.
In summary, there is nothing wrong with being passionate and ambitious in your work. If you want to become the top in your field, you will have to make sacrifices and most likely, work longer hours. As long as you are careful not to overextend yourself to the point of physical or mental exhaustion, at the expense of your relationships, and you have a clear purpose to your work, you can have it all.