How I finally realized being a workaholic isn’t a good thing

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you found something you were good at and something you were passionate about, and you threw yourself at it 100 percent, only to wake up one day and realize you’d given so much of yourself to your work that the other parts of your life had been seriously neglected.

Maybe your relationships suffered or your children went from being babies to preschoolers, and you can’t remember the steps in between. Or, maybe you looked in the mirror and barely recognized the person staring back because you rarely took a moment for yourself on the way to the top of the career ladder.

And maybe you found yourself thinking it was too late to take a step back and rebalance your life for yourself and your family. I’ve been there and I’m here to send you some encouragement from the other side. Yes, there is another side.

I am a recovering workaholic

I spent years of my life pushing myself for success, working countless hours and convincing myself that it would all be worth it eventually. But “eventually” never came, and one success after another never seemed to be enough. I wanted more, I needed more. My identity (and my ego) was intertwined with my ability to produce results in the workplace. The harder I worked, the more results I got. And that felt good.

I don’t remember the precise moment that I knew I needed a change. It crept up slowly — that sinking feeling that, despite my outward appearance of being this powerhouse career woman who always “had it together,” I was dropping the ball in every other area of my life. While I was waiting for the pay off that I always believed would “eventually” come from my work addiction (yup, there’s that nasty word), what I found instead was that my family and friends “eventually” gave up on me. My children got so accustomed to, “Mommy needs to work,” that they no longer asked me to play. My husband got used to hearing, “I don’t have time,” that he stopped trying to connect with me. My friends stopped calling. And my body and spirit grew tired.

How did I make it to the other side? I’m not going to tell you that saying no to the work will ever be easy. It will be a choice, every day, to stick to the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. There will always be a part of you that craves that fast-paced, results-driven career life. And I’m not going to tell you to quit work completely, because we both know that’s not realistic. But what I do hope you find is balance and peace. What I do hope you take away is that you can make a change. Today. One step at a time.

What I learned as a recovering workaholic is this:

  • It is never too late to find your balance, and in doing so, you will claim your peace. Your peace. Not the world’s peace. Not your best friend’s peace. Not your husband’s peace. Your peace.

How do you start?

  • Take a step back and evaluate the areas of your life that are lacking. Visualize the life that you want. Not the bank account or the big house or the fancy car. Visualize the memories and moments you want to be a part of. And set a path that puts you back in those parts of your life that really need you.
  • Learn the value of saying no when you need to. You cannot be all things to all people. You will never win the rat race — so leave your work at work. Give your family the gift of your undivided attention — it is really the thing they want most. Take time to nurture yourself. Remember what it feels like to breathe easy. Rest.
  • Give yourself permission to redefine what success means to you and for you, and say yes to the life that is waiting for you. That “eventually” life is out there. It just looks a bit different than you thought. Say yes to you.

How do I stay on track?

I surround myself with accountability partners that challenge me to pursue my professional dreams in a healthy, adventurous way that doesn’t come at the expense of my children, myself or a fulfilled, purposeful life. If you’re looking for a community of women that get it, that will help you recover — join the Modern Femme Movement. Take that first step towards a renewed life by taking a leap of faith and doing something for yourself. I bet it’s the first time you’ve even thought of yourself in a really long time, isn’t it?


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