7 Signs You're an Extreme Workaholic

Jordan Mendiola

Photo by Luigi Estuye, LUCREATIVE® on Unsplash

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Anyone who works hard is admirable. But someone who works all the time and is consumed by achieving success can be scary. 

The term “workaholic” was coined in 1971 by the psychologist Wayne E. Oates, who referred to “an uncontrollable need to work incessantly” as an addiction.

Life is too short to be working our entire lives. Taking a break every once in a while is healthy and totally fine. Most workaholics like myself find it very hard to “clock out.” 

Achieving success and living a life of fulfillment or purpose consumes the workaholic. They believe they’re not enough, so they overcompensate by staying busy 24/7. 

Here are seven signs you’re an extreme workaholic

1. You Feel Like You’re Not Doing Enough

When you clock in for work or your side hustle, there has to be a time you clock out. 

There are only 24 hours in a day, and everyone chooses differently how they spend their 24. The average job hours are from 9 am-5 pm. We’ve all heard of the 9–5, but workaholics days look more like 8–8. 

Personally, I’ve struggled to realize that I’m doing too much at once. I run marketing for a company, write, day-trade stocks, and run a YouTube channel. To pursue each of these projects requires my time — a limited resource.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Workaholics reported a higher need for recovery, more sleep problems, more cynicism, more emotional exhaustion, and more depressive feelings than employees who merely worked long hours but did not have workaholic tendencies.”

Although you have a lot going for you and people tell you how proud they are of you, you still don’t believe you’re doing enough. The success at the end of the dark tunnel is all you’re chasing. 

You believe once you get there, all your doubts, insecurities, and worries are going to vanish. But the reality is, a workaholic will never be satisfied. 

Do this instead:

If you’re a workaholic, try writing down everything you’ve accomplished in your life and go through old pictures and memories. Look at how far you’ve come and realize you’re amazing. 

2. You Feel Like You Deserve a Higher Income

Plenty of people believe they’re worth more than they make. Although this may be true, a true workaholic could be a millionaire and still never be happy. 

Money makes the world go around, but also makes work seem like a never-ending process. There’s a reason people retire around the age of 65 — to relax and enjoy life without going to work. 

More money does not mean more happiness. Money means you have more leverage to do the things you love. It’s good to be driven, but not money-driven. 

When I was deployed in the Army, I made more money than I ever had before, and when I returned home, I had a sudden dropoff. A reduction in income caused me to have a lot of financial anxiety. I’m not broke, but I want more. Getting money can be a greedy and vicious cycle that’s hard to escape

Do this instead:

Work hard, but don’t get too drawn in by the money. Instead, focus on getting better at budgeting so you can grow your money within savings, investments, and your checking account. You don’t have to be an overnight success to live comfortably. 

3. Your Friends Wonder Where You’ve Been

Going off the grid is common among workaholics. Everyone close to the person gets lost in work. They aren’t a priority anymore, and feelings get hurt. 

Friends and family can only support a workaholic to a certain degree until they don’t feel important anymore. Once work replaces loved ones and your inner circle, work starts to become toxic. 

The relationships you have in your life are the most precious connections you’ll ever have — work will still be there regardless. We need to stop and smell the roses, live a little, and appreciate our achievements. 

Do this instead:

Be sure to make time for the people in your life who mean the most. When you “clock out,” try to make time for those around you who truly care about you. Unavailability comes off as disrespectful when you’re too “busy” with work. 

4. You Consume Too Much “Hustle” Content

To hustle is to grind, work hard, and not stop until you make it to your destination. That also means you might not be happy when you’re in your process.

The work can be damaging to your happiness and well-being if all you’re focused on is work. Enjoy non-work or motivation related in the after-hours too.

If you don’t consume light-hearted content, you’ll fall into a dark hole of not being enough.

About a year ago, I realized I watched too much Gary Vee. I quit doing all the stuff I loved outside of work. I focused on “making it” a little too much. The grind was fun in the beginning, but it consumed me and made me feel lesser.

Don’t forget the real you when you’re out there hustling. It’s easy to be blindsided by success. It’s too convenient to cut off the world so you can go and get yours. There’s a fine balance between working hard and overworking. 

Do this instead:

Think about all of the subjects you love to read or watch and pursue them. Personal growth, success, and motivation are great in moderation but shouldn’t be all you consume, or else it will turn around and consume you. 

5. You Don’t Schedule “No Work” Time in Your Day

We only get 24 hours in a day. We can sleep for 8, work for 8, and use the other 8 for ourselves. 8/8/8 is a healthy dynamic, and it allows us to unwind and live a little.

For most of my life, I didn’t schedule “no work” time into my schedule. Instead, I got too caught up in my personal projects. Every second of every day seemed like it couldn’t go to waste; otherwise, I’d be wasting my life away. 

After reading stories and consuming content on workaholism, I learned it helps to be deliberate with your work schedule. It’s important to set aside time to do you, and not your work. 

Do this instead: 

Designate a time you’re going to “clock out” every day, and then pencil in time for yourself. This can be your personal time to do anything that makes you happy besides work. It’s hard at first, but when you designate time for your personal life, you’ll be considerably happier.

Unapologetically prioritize self-care so you can come back the next day energized and ready to go.

6. You Care Too Much About Other People’s Opinions

Everyone judges everyone. It’s in our DNA to log in to Facebook or LinkedIn and see what everyone’s up to. Some people are getting incredible job offers, while others are launching businesses.

That doesn’t have to be you. You don’t need to feel pressured by everyone else to do something out of your comfort zone because success will consume your life. 

If you’re making decent money and can afford to do the things you love in life, then you’ve won. You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses workaholic style. Stay in your own lane and do what makes you happy.

The work will be there until you die. If it’s not people’s opinions of you that drive you, then it’s your own opinion of yourself. Re-wire your mindset.

Do this instead:

Practice self-love and self-care. Listen to yourself and tell yourself that it’s okay to take a day off or take a break. Remember, you’re grinding and working hard already and that everything’s going to be okay. 

7. You Go it Alone and Don’t Ask for Help

Achieving success on your own is a lonely journey. I used to be an entrepreneur who stayed very much to myself without seeking mentorship. I was too stubborn to listen to everyone else. 

According to many successful people I’ve talked to, a key component to being happy while working hard is that you have to make time for yourself. If there’s no time for yourself, then you’re going to burn out fast.

Join online communities of people who want to achieve the same goals you do. Listen carefully to the ones who have achieved what you’re seeking. Working smarter and not harder is the best strategy, sometimes.

Do this instead:

The internet is a great place to start. There is tons of useful information on how to be happy, which requires mentorship and asking for help. Be vulnerable and ask people to take you away from work and talk about your hopes and dreams. Seeking inspiration can go a long way.

Final Thoughts

Working hard is an admirable characteristic a person can possess, but the moment it starts to take over their lives is the point in which it becomes controlling. 

  • You are enough, and your work speaks for itself. 
  • Although you want to earn more money, remember that it isn’t the only important thing in the world. 
  • Show up for your friends and loved ones. They’re rooting you on but are often too afraid to tell you that work is taking you away from them.
  • Hustle content should only be a small fraction of the information you consume. Acknowledge the other subjects you enjoy in life besides success.
  • Schedule time to “not work” so that you prioritize self-love and self-care so that you can come back the next day happier and energized.
  • Focus on your own opinion of yourself. Realize that you’re amazing and that you’re doing a great job. Don’t let other people’s lives influence yours.
  • Don’t go it alone. Anyone who’s ever been successful has asked for help and created a work-life balance. We work to live, not the other way around.

Stay away from being in an abusive relationship with the work you do, and you’ll be much happier for doing it. 

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Creative entrepreneur, U.S. Army Engineer, and dedicated runner. Committed to sharing ideas that lead to more fulfillment in all areas of life. Email: mendiola1829@gmail.com

Chicago, IL
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