Being a Workaholic Has Some Positive Aspects / and Dangers

By Belt, Joy Reed | THE JOURNAL RECORD, October 17, 1987 | Go to article overview

Being a Workaholic Has Some Positive Aspects / and Dangers


Belt, Joy Reed, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Because of its obvious derivation from "alcoholic," the word "workaholic" seems to have negative associations in people's minds.

But while it's true that the workaholic pays a price, his disease has payoffs that give it some positive aspects.

When workaholism becomes extreme, the person is wholly wrapped up in his work and lets his whole self-esteem ride on business success.

One danger is that if failure comes, even if for no fault of his own, the workaholic is unprepared to handle it and may have an emotional crisis. Another is that when striving is too intense, it can lead to burnout. Moreover, an obsession with work can damage marriage and other personal relationships.

Many workaholics are also perfectionists. Since nobody's perfect, the perfectionist's demands on himself are unrealistic and doomed to failure - with consequent loss of self-esteem.

But, just as alcohol has benign uses, work also produces many benefits - not only money to live on, but also a sense of achievement which is essential to happiness. I've never known a successful person who wasn't at least partially workaholic.

Again as with alcohol, the key seems to be control. If you can retain balance - an ability to relax, an ability to leave work at the office and focus attention on your family when you're home, an ability to quit when reasonable goals have been reached - 14-hour days and 60-hour weeks can lead to happiness instead of self-destruction.

QUESTION: Having worked up to a $73,000 a year salary, I don't see why I shold take less money and give up everything I've worked so hard for just because I've been laid off. Yet there do not seem to be many jobs available at this level.

ANSWER: That's the reason why you should be prepared to take less money and give up everything you've worked so hard for, if necessary, to stay alive. It's better to bend than to break.

Q: The last company I worked for went under. …

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