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My Name is Susan, and I Am a Workaholic

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

By Susan Nunziata

I recently found myself in one of those pointless verbal sparring matches with my husband (we'll call him T-Bone). You know the kind that longtime couples can get into, during which two otherwise intelligent adults hit each other with the grown-up equivalent of phrases like "Oh yeah? Well, YOUR Mama wears combat boots!"

Except, this time, T-Bone hit me with the verbal equivalent of a kidney punch: "Oh yeah? Well, YOU'RE a workaholic!"

Fight over. TKO.

Suppressing the urge to grab my smartphone and check for messages, I thought: Really? Me? A workaholic?

The next day, I reached out to CIO Insight's longtime editorial contributor Dennis McCafferty about writing a feature article on workaholism. He immediately grabbed the ball and ran with it. Score two points for me: I waited until the next morning to contact my writer, AND I delegated the work to someone I knew would do a great job with the assignment.

That's about where the buck stopped.

To put together our feature, 10 Clues That You're a Workaholic, Dennis collaborated with author/executive coach David Krueger, M.D., a former clinical professor of psychiatry. Dr. Krueger now serves as CEO of MentorPath, which specializes in helping CIOs and other senior executives enhance their success by improving self-understanding and interpersonal skills. The world stopped spinning for a second when I looked at the resulting list. Every item resonated, some more than others. For me, these points particularly made me squirm:

  • There is no specific time when work ends (that's not normal?)
  • Work excites you more than anything you have going on in your personal life (ok, that's probably not normal).
  • Your family members/loved ones no longer act surprised or disappointed that you cancel time with them, or are hours late for events (isn't this the "new" normal?).

Ouch.

It would be easy to lay blame at the feet of our crazy economy, the 24/7 pace of business, and even the cursed technology that enables us to keep up with our E-mail from anywhere. Indeed, for some of us, workaholism is not in our nature, but rather is a disease thrust upon us by economic circumstance. For others, it's the result of addictive technological innovation that is supposedly enabling "work/life balance."

It would be easy for me to lay blame upon circumstance or Crackberry. But it would be disingenuous. I have been behaving this way since back in the day, when you were considered "tech-forward" if you owned a fax machine.

Take a look at our list and tell us if you see yourself here. Are you a workaholic by nature? Do you feel you're forced to be one these days because of the economy? Or, are you one of those people who have, truly, managed to strike a work-life balance?

And, what about your workers? What is the message you're sending to them? What are the ways you've found to help employees who are deep in the throes of workaholism?

Share your story, tips or advice here in our comments field or, if you prefer privacy, contact me here

Oh, and remember, we all have T-Bone to thank for this one.

 
 
 
 

3 Comments for "My Name is Susan, and I Am a Workaholic"

  • Susan Nunziata January 26, 2011 1:46 pm

    Hi Craig--Glad to hear you're choosing to kick-the-habit, let us know if you go through any workaholism withdrawal symptoms in the process.

  • R. Craig Porter January 25, 2011 10:57 pm

    Yep, me too. I'm reading emails at 22:50 and this seems normal to me. I once commented recently to a colleague that I thought I was a workaholic and he said, "Stop bragging". I think we in the U.S. are more prone to workaholism and it is seen as just the price you pay for getting ahead. Well, after years of 70+ hour weeks, losing my health, family and yes even finances, I'm getting off the treadmill. I'm sure 40 hours a week will seem like a vacation.

  • Gregg Frank September 23, 2010 11:39 am

    Hi Everyone, my name is Gregg Frank and I am a workaholic. Have been for about 15 years. Didn't "really" realize it until I got through the 10 Clues Your A Workaholic. Ok, even after that I didn't know yet. At first, I was laughing, I thought it was so funny that I forwarded to my wife with an "Uh oh" as a joke. My wife then informed me it wasn't a joke. I think I'll be spending a lot more time on some hobbies and family from now on. Thank you for the great articles. Keep up the good work.

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