If we heard that someone was a workaholic 30 years ago (if we even used that term back then) I bet most of us would assume the culprit was male. I bet all of us would.
But women as workaholics is a reality that is rapidly growing in numbers.
Workaholism has been called everything from the Best Dressed Addiction to the Respectable Addiction and for good reason. What is there not to admire about someone who puts in long hours at the office? Who stays until the job is done, no matter what she has to miss...a t-ball game, a graduation, a night out with the girls or a date-night with the husband. Someone who takes the reigns and follows through on a constant and thorough basis, and who is on 24/7 is a gift to any organization.
That may be true for the organization's bottom line. But for her co-workers she may be a demanding perfectionist whose need to control every aspect of work leads to water-cooler complaints and colleagues who'd rather spend the afternoon at a gynecologist's office than with the company 'go-getter'.
The fall-out of the workaholic is most serious at home. Children are lucky to spend one night a week with Mom and even then she's glued to her Blackberry. They smile through canceled parties and play-dates or assume that Dad or the babysitter will be taking them to swimming lessons. Husbands barely see their wives and when he does, she's too tired to talk, to fool around or to ask him how his day went. The single workaholic doesn't date because she doesn't have time, or lost her boyfriend because he saw her dog more than he saw her (offering to walk her pooch if she had late meetings turned into a daily chore).
Women who take time off for maternity leave are sometimes made to feel like they 'owe' the company by doing double duty when they return. Or to break that glass ceiling they have to prove their worthiness by staying on when everyone else has gone home. Often women in corporate America will tell you they feel they have to work twice as hard to get equal respect.
And it's not always working women. Stay-at-home mothers may also exhibit workaholic traits. Feeling the need to organize every party, every play-date and attend every school function and serve on every community committee can be just as exhausting and stressful for her, and her family suffer the same consequences as that of the working mother.
Bryan Robinson, Robinson, a psychotherapist in Asheville, N.C., and professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, talked to WebMD about workaholics and workaholic women. He said that there are four categories of workaholics. They are:
1. "The bulimic workaholic feels the job must be done perfectly or not at all. Bulimic workaholics often can't get started on projects, and then scramble to complete it by deadline, often frantically working to the point of exhaustion -- with sloppy results.
2. The relentless workaholic is the adrenaline junkie who often takes on more work than can possibly be done. In an attempt to juggle too many balls, they often work too fast or are too busy for careful, thorough results.
3. The attention-deficit workaholic often starts with fury, but fails to finish projects -- often because they lose interest for another project. They often savor the "brainstorming" aspects but get easily bored with the necessary details or follow-through.
4. The savoring workaholic is slow, methodical, and overly scrupulous. They often have trouble letting go of projects and don't work well with others. These are often consummate perfectionists, frequently missing deadlines because "it's not perfect." "
He also adds that ""...one thing that we do know is that workaholics tend to seek out jobs that allow them to exercise their addiction. The workplace itself does not create the addiction any more than the supermarket creates food addiction, but it does enable it. Workaholics tend to seek high-stress jobs to keep the adrenaline rush going." "
So what does one do about workaholism? Like any addiction, blaming the workaholic woman for her addiction is pointless. Supporting her and guiding her to controlling the addiction is not. There is actually a 12-step program for workaholics, similar to other 12-step programs. Click on www.workaholics-anonymous.org for more information. Counseling can also be of enormous benefit.
What may not be as helpful? Going to your boss about it. Corporations don't tend to see workaholism as a problem (I wonder why?) and tend to reward it, rather than encourage their employees to see ways to end the addiction.
To get an idea of whether you may be treading a fine line, click here to take the workaholics quiz http://www.forbes.com/2005/11/14/workaholic-quiz-careers-cx_1117_bizbasi...
I scored a 56. No slacker here, but no workaholic either!
And tell us -
Do you consider yourself a workaholic? Or do you know someone who is? How has it affected your life or your loved ones?
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.