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The Real Cause of Workaholism

I’m a workaholic. I love to work, or at least I thought I did. Part of that is because I enjoy what I do, and the other part comes from the gift/suffering (depending on the day) of a deep, ambitious drive to do good in the world. I chase passions and dreams. I won’t let others tell me it can’t be done.

Entrepreneurialism serves workaholics well. So do corporate desk jobs, but it most often doesn’t serve you. It serves your boss.

The funny thing is that I quit my job so that I could control my own schedule. I do, but I work way more than I ever did in a corporate job. When I’m in control there is always more to do. When the boss is in control, you can only do so much before the boss bottlenecks your creative process.

It’s ironic to be a workaholic yoga teacher. It seems a paradox. But then, yoga is nothing but a paradox. That doesn’t mean workaholism is okay. In fact, it’s said that we teach what we most need to learn ourselves, and those who truly know me will never argue about me learning how to relax. It’s just not in my nature. But I’m trying because I think it’s important and I won’t let my “nature” define me.

Are You Afraid to Relax?

A recent study found that the fear of relaxation is actually a real thing and more common than you might think. It’s not just that people don’t know how to relax – some people are actually afraid!

As a card-carrying member of Generation Y, I grew up as the kid who was involved in everything from the time I entered elementary school. This was my own choice, not pushed upon me by my parents, but everyone else was doing it and so I wanted to do it too. I wanted to be involved in everything! I wanted to be busy. I learned how to be busy and how to work at a very young age.

I was also an expert player – my friends and I used our imaginations to play games outside all day long in the summer. But as my middle school years approached, that creativity was squashed out of me and overtaken by an inherent busyness that was the way of the world for a sixth grader.

And so today, it’s no wonder that I’m a workaholic.

It’s not that I love or hate to work. It’s that I’m scared shitless of what to do when I’m not working! I don’t know how to relax, or chill. I don’t know how to play as an adult. This is why I revert to working. Not always because I love it, but because I’d rather have something to do than nothing at all.

Now if I have plans with friends, I’ll gladly leave work. But if there is nothing better to do, I’ll work all night long until it’s time to go to sleep. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do!

The Institution of Adult Recess

I don’t really enjoy watching TV because I think it’s a waste of time and brain cells. I sit on a computer all day long, so looking at a screen is painful. Browsing Facebook often just depresses you as you watch everyone else you kind of know having fun while you sit  at home living vicariously through them wondering why you weren’t invited and wishing you didn’t have so much to do. But really you’re wishing you knew what to do besides work and kill your brain cells (and mood) browsing Facebook.

The other problem is that when you spend so much energy on work, you rarely have the energy to work on not work. Having fun still takes some thought. You most likely won’t stop working and magically know what to do. Hobbies take too much time to develop. I don’t want to learn something new in my free time. I don’t have the brainpower.

Workaholism is a bad habit I’ve developed over many years, fine tuned to the point that I conveniently don’t have to fill my time with anything else but my scheduled social engagements and work itself.

I’ve reached the point where despair is high enough in the moments of not work, where the absence of play is so glaringly apparent and the lack of fun is eating away at my creative, playful soul, that it’s time to find an answer.

Experimentation may be the only solution.

I’m looking at picking up the guitar, possibly doing some more cooking, maybe calling up friends. Also taking up coloring. Dancing. Reading. Chatting.

All ideas are welcome.

Are you a workaholic because you’re afraid of the time in between work and work?  What do you do to relax and let loose?

Image credit: Raychel Mendez

By | 2017-06-15T14:21:40+00:00 May 2nd, 2013|balance, entrepreneurialism, life|