Are you a workaholic? Which type are you? Today, host Kat Nieh talks about the two types of workaholics—the soul-fueling workaholic and the soul-draining workaholic. No, you can’t always just tell by looking at them. Find out which type you are, so you can start working smarter rather than working harder.
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[ Episode 2 ] Two types of workaholics
We are going to talk about two different types of workaholics. Before we get started, I do want to preface this episode with this message: “Hello, I’m Kat, and I’m a workaholic… to my core”. When I am in my doing mode, it’s like I had blinders on and I lose track of time. That means I forget to eat or rest sometimes. When my passion is driving me, it’s like I’m fueled powerfully by rocket fuel that sends me blasting towards my goals as I am in my zone. It makes me feel so alive because I am doing exactly what I feel like I’m meant to be doing in this world. It feels amazing that all my skillsets, my knowledge and my experience are all leading into actual impact in the world in some way.
That is my description of a soul-fueling workaholic, which is close to a nine on my workaholism scale. If that is about a nine from a scale to one to ten, what is on the other end of the spectrum—the one? That is the soul-draining workaholic. That is the type that gets most of the press and brings workaholism its bad rep. According to Dr. Barbara Killinger, Ph.D., this is the most common impression of workaholism. She describes in her article understanding the dynamics of workaholism. This version of her workaholic is “a work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success.”
We definitely know that one quite well because you’re constantly stressed. You are hooked on your work performance and getting the results that you want. Your adrenaline is pushing you to do more and more. You consider yourself a multitasking genius who could fill every moment of your calendar with something to do. You could double or triple-book your calendar, because you are so busy and you want to do many things all at the same time. Your life is typically very fast-paced. You’re quick to judge, because you don’t have time for things, which leads to little patience. You have high standards for yourself and everyone around you, and you feel like it’s so much easier to do it yourself because no one could do it as good as you can.
But know that all this behavior that you have is pushing people away, and you could barely relax. You can’t even consider taking a vacation because there’s too much stuff you can do. You cannot fall behind. You are way too important for your work, and things will fall apart if you’re not there, right? Doesn’t all of this sound so soul-draining? And that’s the thing. I was like that before, and it was almost like I was a work zombie.
Workaholism has become an epidemic in our society. It’s like a condition that has been made acceptable by our society as we’ve been fed these old generational beliefs that we need to work harder to get what we want. And that just preys on our desire and our want to have a purpose in life, to be a useful member of society, and to feel a sense of belonging.Workaholism has become an epidemic in our society. You have the power to stop churning away your life for someone or something else. Make yourself the priority and choose yourself instead. Click To Tweet
Obviously, it’s a means to an end. We’re making money to survive. We’ve been chained down to believe that this is the only way. We’ve been taught to equate working hard to success in a corporate job or either climbing up to the top of the food chain by any means possible to make more money and to get more power, or you are just a cog in the machine. You are churning away your life for someone or something else. There are companies out there who feed on our passion or expect complacency in exchange for that stable paycheck or for the benefits that we get from the company. If you are working in a company that’s filled with workaholics, especially when that’s your manager or your head of departments, it continues to perpetuate that workaholic culture. The higher-ups are placing these unreasonable demands and heavy pressure on the people who report to them.
We are so driven by all of these goals we have to achieve—these milestones, these results, ROIs, statistics or all this data to prove that we’re making progress. All that is causing more and more stress, which leads to people being driven to be workaholics. So if everyone around you is a workaholic, aren’t you also expected to be a workaholic as well to fit in or even worse to keep your job? There are even instances of people who are pretending they’re workaholics or putting up a facade to feel like they can fit in or to show that they’re busy because we’re all supposed to be busy at work.
Because of that, we’re all trying to strive for this mythical being of a work-life balance. And that’s the thing, it shouldn’t be called balance, because balance implies that work and life are constantly battling each other. This constant push and pull to get to this equilibrium of a 50/50 space. There is no one who has a clear 50/50 split of their life and their work. That balance is different for everyone. That’s why people have been using the term work-life harmony instead. It’s learning how to harmonize those two sides of your life in a way that it is customized to you based on what makes you happy and what your priorities are in life. There is no judgment here. There’s no guilt, there’s no sacrificing anything because at the end of the day, it is what works for you. That means there is less pressure and stress for you to harmonize your work and your life.
The Soul-Fueling Workaholic
Let’s go back to the other side, the soul-fueling workaholic. I want to describe that side a little bit more. You are driven by passion and excitement for the career that you have. It brings you so much joy when you’re doing work that your determination becomes inspirational and mesmerizing to those around you as you’re working. On the outside, you might exhibit some similar behaviors as the soul-draining workaholic, but work actually fulfills you because you know this is your purpose, and you are sharing your gift and your impact with the world. That is what makes it soul-fueling.
With any extreme, you can get carried away by your passion because you could also be so focused on your work that you have your blinders on and lose track of time. You are so passionate about your work that you also let the other aspects of your lives fall through. Because you are fueled by your passion that you could still face similar issues as a soldier in your workaholic who instead is working out of obligation and expectations.There is no one who has a clear 50/50 split of their life and their work. That so-called balance is different for everyone. You need to find your own work-life harmony. Click To Tweet
Now that you know the outliers and the neutral, then you might ask where we should be on the scale. I believe that is around seven or eight on the scale because you are passionate about what you’re doing for your work. It drives and fuels you because you’re sharing your gift and impacting the world. At the same time, you have the wisdom to set clear boundaries with work. You are still maintaining great mental mindsets. You are well-balanced in your mental, physical, emotional side of your life and you have healthy relationships outside of work with your friends and family. You are the type that everyone is looking at and sees from the outside of actually having the mythical work-life harmony thing all figured out while still be driven by your passion for work and making that impact in the world and be able to have an amazing life at the same time. What is the major difference? One of them is that you were working smarter, not harder.
Doesn’t that sound so much better to have a life like that? That’s the state I strive to be in. You might be surprised to know this, but I’m not there yet. I am still learning how to do that and I won’t ever tell you that I have a completely figured out. I won’t even try to claim anything close to that because my life is constantly changing that my priorities are shifting. In this phase of my life, I’m focusing more on work and in another phase, I might focus more on my life or other parts of my life that it’s constantly shifting. There’s no right or wrong. We’re always in this ebb and flow in our life. We’re never in this stagnant set perfect spot.
I know that I can get close to it because that is my intention. I will continue to grow my awareness. I will continue to learn tools to help me get there, to learn from other people who have done it well and most importantly is working on myself. After knowing all this, you might be asking, “Why should I listen to you, Kat?” It’s because I am merely a few steps ahead of you, and to be honest, I feel like that is when I can help you the most, because I get it. I just went through it. I walked down that rough, dark path and now I am turning around to give you that hand you need to pull you up or continue to guide you through because we are in this together. If I was already in that super Zen workaholic mode, it’s like I’m already at the end of the tunnel.
As you’re tripping over rocks and trying to find your footing, all you could hear is a whisper in voice and this super dim lighting that is barely illuminating your path in front of you. That whisper isn’t going to help you as much versus someone who is right in front of you—helping you and telling you where to go and watch that step right in front of you. That’s why I am interviewing the experts. They’re already at the end of the tunnel or much further down in the tunnel where we want to be at. They could continue guiding us in the different phases that we need as we continue walking down that tunnel.
I want to hear from you. Ask me questions. Let me know what you want to learn about and I’ll share what I know. I will go out and find the right people to teach us what we both don’t know.
Think back to what I said and ask yourself, where do you see yourself on that scale? You’d only be lying to yourself because you’re not telling me directly and it won’t do any good if you lie to yourself. I want you to compare it to that eight on the scale and how close are you to that number? For reference at my own rock bottom, I was probably two or three and now I am wavering between a six and a nine depending on what I’m working on. I’m getting close, but I’m not at the eight either. I know that it’s okay because I’m happy to continue working on it because I’m growing so much from experience. Each step I take is progress and it’s bringing me closer and closer to my intention of being there. Know that we could absolutely do this together.
You got this. I am here for you.