The Ins and Outs of Being a Workaholic

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The biotech industry produces a complex, high stress and intricate work environment, so it’s no surprise that workaholics pop up in this industry all the time. It can be tough to tear yourself away from your computer, microscope or data-filled desk when you feel as though you’re on the edge of a positive breakthrough. Plus, the feeling that you’re doing something to improve the lives and health of society also motivates you to want to keep pushing through.

The problem comes when you’re the first person in the office every day and always the last to leave. You find yourself pouring over reports while eating dinner instead of engaging with your family. You start sketching new equipment, like prosthetics, while sitting in the stands at your child’s baseball game. Basically, your job takes over your life in a very unsettling and unhealthy manner. So, how do you pry yourself away from work long enough to see the signs? And if you do, what are the next steps to regaining control of your life?

Why Are You a Workaholic?

The first step is to determine your “why” - there are many reasons why someone becomes a workaholic. In some cases, they work in order to avoid facing emotional issues that they simply don’t want to deal with. For example, the death of a loved one can lead someone to become a workaholic, because they can avoid dealing with that loss when they’re at work. Other cases can involve wanting to save the world – or at least leave your mark in the field. This happens quite often in the biotech industry, where breakthroughs can and do lead to positive changes. However, a problem arises when your work goals start to consume your life. Workaholics are addicted to the job, and it can lead to many problems, especially with your health and personal life.

Relationship Begin to Breakdown

Taking your work home with you or just never leaving the office can cause a number of problems when it comes to your personal relationships. Your spouse may feel as though you never have time for them. Your kids may feel like they never see you. You may miss important milestones with your friends and feel them start to drift away. After all, once you turn down multiple invitations to hang out, grab a drink, or hit up the bowling alley with them on the weekends, they’ll eventually stop asking. When work consistently takes precedence, all of your relationships will suffer. In this way, workaholism is no different than any other addictive behavior.

Burnout Can Set In

On top of ruining personal relationships, workaholics often suffer from burnout on the job. Burnout, which occurs when you do nothing but think about work and fail to take any time for yourself, can actually hurt or hinder your productivity. At this point, workaholics get trapped in a vicious cycle because they feel as though they haven’t accomplished enough, but because they are suffering from burnout, they work even harder. It won’t take long for you to fall off of this never-ending hamster wheel.

Helpful Solutions to Tame Your Inner Workaholic

Thankfully, even if you’ve jumped aboard the workaholic train, there are several stops you can hop off at. Though it takes some initial dedication, there are some key things you can do in order to reduce your addiction to your job and mitigate the fallout. A few well-known tricks that have proven effective include:

  • Setting Aside Family Time – If you’ve been neglecting your family (or friends) due to your impulsive need to work 24/7, then some designated family time may provide the results that you so desperately need. Be proactive, and make a “date” to hang out with your family and friends. Be diligent in your efforts and turn your phone and computer off. Focus on them, and give them your full attention. This not only gives you some time to relax which prevents burnout, but it improves your relationships as well.
  • The Rubber Band Method – This one is simple but so effective. Place a rubber band around your wrist. If you find yourself thinking of work during your family time or off hours, pull that rubber band back and let it snap against your wrist. It hurts, but this method of negative reinforcement truly works. Once you’ve snapped it against your wrist enough, you’ll begin to think of other things besides your job and start being more present  “in the moment.”
  • Seek Help – Depending on the reasons behind your addiction to work, you may find that therapy is a good, stable option to get to the root of the problem. You can also ask your friends and family for assistance in breaking your addictive cycle. Tell them that you want to spend less time at work – and less time focusing on work while at home. Allow them to help hold you responsible for your actions.

In a high stress, high productivity environment like the biotech industry, it’s easy to see workaholics emerge. But the good news is that even if you dip your toe in that pool, with help, you can always hop right out. Each of these methods can help you overcome your workaholic nature and begin living your life again. However, the biggest factor – that you actually want to change – is completely up to you! 

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