May 22, 2012
Do you love your job so much that you never look at the clock? Perhaps you put in 70 or more hours a week without batting an eye? According to a 2011 study by Utrecht University in the Netherlands, engaged workaholics — or workers who are energized by their jobs — are on the rise. And if the motivation to work long hours comes from passion and not fear, experts say this could be a very good thing.
"If someone is passionate about their work and they love doing it and have a great need to finish a project more quickly, it can be a very positive thing," said Ron Volper, a business executive and author of the book "Up Your Sales in a Down Market." "For those who are workaholics because they're afraid of getting their head chopped off, it's not so great."
Volper said being a fearful workaholic can damage your relationships, both at home and at the office. But being an engaged workaholic — someone who is excited and energized by their job — can help your career get on the fast track.
"They earn more money, they're more likely to get promoted, they raise the work ethic within the company and they get projects done more quickly and usually more thoroughly," Volper said.
And in this economy, Volper said companies are looking for this type of worker.
"Companies are short handed," he said. "They have a smaller head count and customers are more demanding. Those two dynamics require more people to work more hours."
Here are some of Volper's tips on how to be a successful workaholic:
Remember there is no 'one schedule fits all' in the work force.
"Not everyone has the same tolerance for working 80 hours a week," Volper said. "People talk about needing a work-life balance, but who's to say what that ratio should be? Mine may be different than yours. My kids are grown and out of the house and my wife also works. I may work until 8 p.m., whereas someone with small kids ... this might not be the best thing to do on a regular basis."
Be honest about your motivation.
"You need to know, are you working more hours because you're passionate about the work and because you want to get it done more thoroughly — or are you working more hours because you are uncomfortable being at home or uncomfortable being with yourself? It's finding out the reason and motivator that's driving it that will make a difference.
Unplug from the office at designated times.
"Are you able to focus on being with your family for dinner if you're out at a restaurant, or are you preoccupied with something else that you feel you need to do? There is nothing wrong with looking at your blackberry at 10 o'clock at night as long as the young kids are asleep and you haven't been doing it all evening."
Accept that some people are wired this way.
"I think some people are definitely wired to be workaholics and if this is you, as long as you're not neglecting your family or yourself, I wouldn't worry about it. Most very successful people are not only more creative, but usually they work more hours."
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