How To Stop Being A Workaholic – 21 Effective Ways (2021)

9 min read

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According to workaholism statistics, around 20 percent of the population are workaholics. This work addiction not only ruins one’s health but also relationships as well. 

Yet when fixing workaholism, it’s not enough to deal with the symptoms alone. The most effective ways of stopping workaholism deal with the root cause.

Read on to discover solid tips on how to stop being a workaholic and achieve a fulfilling balance in your life.

Let’s dive right into it.

1. Accept You’re a Workaholic

If you’re still in the denial stage of workaholism, stopping it won’t work. But a problem you accept is a problem you can change. 

Perhaps you’re confused about your habits and are wondering whether you’re truly a workaholic. 

Either way, learn the symptoms of workaholism and aknowledge whether you have the problem before you move to the next tip.

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What are the signs of a workaholic?

To know you’re a workaholic, lookout for the following signs of workaholism:

  • You spend most of your life working 
  • You have compulsive work habits like checking work emails or following up on work calls outside work hours
  • You experience anxiety when not working
  • You often distract yourself from life problems with work
  • Work is your top priority above your health, family, and everything else
  • You frequently base your self-worth on your work failures and successes
  • You’re afraid of taking time off

2. Know the Perils of Workaholism

In the stages of change, the contemplation stage is important since it is where you negotiate the pros and cons of change to know whether it’s worth it or not. In this case, you’ll be more psychologically prepared to stop workaholism if you know its disadvantages.

Here’s why workaholism is bad for you:

  • It hurts your productivity
  • It stresses you and as a result, you stress others
  • You develop unnecessary burn-out that leads to illnesses
  • It brings disproportionate growth in your career and life
  • It hurts other meaningful components of your life like relationships

If you wish to live a meaningful, fulfilling life, remind yourself of these workaholism risks every time you feel it’s too hard to change your situation. Your whole life is yours to live and you can’t substitute it with your job.

3. Understand the Cause of Your Workaholism

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Workaholism is caused by other underlying issues that if they remain unsolved, no tips would be enough to help you stop being obsessed with work. Fortunately, when you know why you do what you do, it helps you solve a problem from its source. 

So what causes workaholism? 

Many workaholics have different fears driving them to work too much. This could be the fear of looking insignificant, death, failure, not being needed, not being enough, and even the fear of feeling life.

They try to numb these fears by working so much to afford more and more, earning a higher career status, or merely looking like they’re doing something right by being busy. But since all this forms a false sense of self-worth, they keep seeking work as a means of more distraction. 

That is until they deal with the root problem. When they determine how to overcome the fear and actually heal, they can be free to do what they enjoy.

So what do you fear?

Related: What Kind Of Therapy Do I Need – 7 Types Easy Explained

4. Accept That Not Working Isn’t Equal to Unproductivity

If you’re a workaholic, you might equate not working with unproductivity. This makes you uneasy every time you choose to take time off and therefore, can’t help but work even when on a trip in the Bahamas.

Yet taking time off work can be the highest form of productivity.

Productivity is efficiently doing your best for every task that facilitates meaning in your life. Of course, not all tasks would appear meaningful to your life. And not everything you do will be perfectly efficient. And that’s okay.

But to be continually productive, you must feed all aspects of your life. You can work to pay the bills and bring value to others but you also need to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul during the other leisure-time hours. After expending energy on work, relaxing is productive.

Write Down Things You Value

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Since you now understand that work and play are all varied but essential parts of staying productive, it’s time to know what brings meaning to your life. This will help you notice the imbalances in non-work-related parts of your life that you’ve been trying hard to ignore.

Here are questions to ponder on and discover what’s important to you:

  • When were you the happiest? What do you think made you feel so?
  • When do you feel most satisfied and fulfilled? What made you feel so?
  • If you could do any job without having to worry about money and other practical limitations, what would you do?
  • What do you want to change about yourself?
  • What do you want to change about the world?
  • What are you most proud of? 

The things that make you happy, satisfied, and fulfilled could be certain people, activities, or even things. Whatever they are, list them down so you know what you need apart from work that makes up the rest of your life. Then move on to the next strategy.

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5. Break Down Your Ideal Day

When you remove your fears and limitations from the equation and truly consider the things you value, how would your life be? How would your ideal day/week be?

On your ideal day, all the valuables you wrote earlier will show up. This can be:

  • A good night’s sleep 
  • Spending time with family
  • Eating healthy
  • Workout
  • Dream job
  • Hobbies
  • Spending time with friends
  • Relax

Note that many who know their ideal day don’t get it right every day. But stopping workaholism isn’t about getting it right always. And work-life balance isn’t about perfection. It’s about incorporating what makes us happy, satisfied, and fulfilled every day — in bits.

Your child telling you, “I had a great time with you dad/mom” just because you picked them from school and took ice cream with them at the park can be all you need to feel alive in a day. And these small happy feelings matter.

6. Incorporate Contemplation Time

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The workaholic’s mind is often extra busy and overstimulated. Not knowing its dangers, many think it’s cool to be busy. It’s become so bad that one of the common responses to “How are you doing” is now “Busy.”

But every human needs alone time to quietly think not of a particular project but about life. From time to time, we need to rethink our past decisions, question our beliefs, process our emotions, listen to our intuition and attain peace of mind before getting back to “doing” life.

Sometimes we’re going in the wrong direction thinking we’re heading for our goals. But when we contemplate, we might realize it and redirect. In a nutshell, contemplation is necessary to stop workaholism and live a fulfilling life.

Meditating, writing, praying, and spending time in nature are examples of ways you can practice contemplation.

Related: 11 Proven Ways Of Emptying Your Mind Effectively

7. Cultivate Awareness In Everything You Do

Staying conscious is being aware of what’s going inside you and around you. This habit promotes living in the present which of course, helps you enjoy and learn from even the tiniest moments of your life. 

For a workaholic, it helps one observe compulsive behaviors and underlying fears driving the workaholism. This strategy would help you know yourself more and improve your ability to change your mindset and as a result, your way of life.

You can become more aware through activities like meditation, journaling, and emotional attunement. When you do more listening and observing, you realize many things that you wouldn’t when talking and being absent-minded.

8. Practice Saying “No” When Necessary

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If you’re a workaholic, you understand it’s nearly impossible to resist any jobs given to you by your seniors. And since you say “yes” to everything they throw at you, every time they need something done they assume you’re available to do it.

You’ll get your promotions, yes. But it’ll be difficult to schedule personal activities that feed other parts of your life.

So you have to redefine boundaries by saying “no” to tasks that hurt the rest of your life. But how do you do it politely?

Here’s how to effectively say “no”:

  • “Unfortunately, I don’t have time to help with that right now”
  • “Sorry, I won’t be able to commit the time you need for the job”
  • “If I accept this task, I have to give up time with my family and I’m not comfortable with that”
  • “I can’t help you with this task but I know someone who can”

When you’re not sure about your options, you can say “I’ll think about it,” “I’ll consider my current commitments and get back to you” plus any related responses.

9. Integrate “Whitespace” Between Tasks

In design, whitespace is the space between elements to bring comprehension, harmony, and balance to information. The same applies to life.

To stop being a workaholic, you need to take breaks between tasks or even big projects to process how far you’ve come and where you’re going. This will increase your productivity and eliminate workaholic habits.

10. Deattach Your Identity From Work

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

You are not your work. Your work is part of you.

For many workaholics, when they’re not working, they don’t know who they are. And it’s because they’ve identified themselves with work for far too long to know who they are without it. 

But you’re more than your work. Your self-worth isn’t determined by career success nor the financial benefits it gives you. You’re so much more.

But even if I tell you this repeatedly, you have to discover for yourself this truth that you may be free. Even if the fear may be paralyzing, you can let go of your identity attached to your job and realize other interests that make You.

11. Delegate and Outsource Tasks

Many workaholics work long hours to finish a task they could delegate or outsource. They do it to ensure perfection, to stay busy, or even to please others. This usually is a waste of time that could otherwise be used to focus on other important things.

But instead of taking it all by yourself, delegate some tasks to others so you can work on things only you can do best. If the workload is too much, outsource it. You can bring out better results through delegation and outsourcing than which your longest hours can produce.

12. Stop “Multitasking”

Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist and author of  “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload,”  defines multitasking as  “A powerful and diabolical illusion.”

As many researchers took a closer look at brain task management, they discovered that your brain can’t work on two things at a time. What you think is multitasking is merely moving back and forth from one task to another.

This habit not only affects your physical well-being but also your mental health and productivity.

But since you’ll be cultivating awareness more from now on, spot multitasking and eliminate it before it takes root.

13. Bring Balance One Step at a Time

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Before you start obsessing over work-life balance, it’s best to remember that it isn’t perfection in every aspect of your life. It also can’t be achieved in an instant. 

As you shift from workaholism towards “a life well-lived,” you’ll experience imbalances along the way.

It’s impossible to start doing 90-minute workouts, walk your dog for an hour, have quality time with kids, special time with wife, meditate for 45 min, sleep 8 hours, cut through the two hour-traffic, brave the 9 to 5, and prepare an organic meal all in one day. 

Instead, bring something you desire to do and add it to your days until it becomes “second nature.” Integrate another in bits and so forth.

As you practice some things you love until they become a normal lifestyle, you’ll discover more ways to bring more balance. That’s the journey of a meaningful life. It’s imperfect and sometimes messy but it’s worth living.

Related: Work-Life Balance Coach – 12 Effective Interventions

Questions on Overcoming Workaholism Answered

Get a sneak-peek into answers to my clients’ workaholism questions below.

How do I stop being a workaholic and enjoy life?

When you understand and accept that you’re a workaholic, you can move on to fix workaholism by learning how to work productively, getting the relaxation you need, and adding meaningful activities in your life. The above tips have the steps you need to accomplish these things and enjoy life.

The positive sides being a workaholic

Although it has many downsides, workaholism has advantages like:

  • Increased pay where more work means more pay
  • Credibility boosts since employers would rate you highly
  • You become highly experienced in your job
  • You bring value to many people especially when working on a cause

Positive Personality Traits Workaholics have in common

After a couple of studies on workaholics, researchers noticed they are generally:

  • Altruistic
  • Action-oriented
  • Innovative
  • Focused
  • Dependable
  • Self-reliant
  • Resilient
  • Self-driven
  • Hard-working
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Stop Workaholism One Step at a Time

Take time to contemplate your life, acknowledge that you’re a workaholic, and start making changes. Knowing the life you desire helps you choose how you’ll go about work-life balance and start enjoying your life.

Do you now know how to stop being a workaholic? Share with us your ideal life in balance!

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