How many times did you check your email or your phone on your days off over the holidays? While there are certainly good things that come from working hard, being a workaholic isn't all that great. In fact, research has shown employees who don't check out to enjoy their own pursuits or to maintain balance in their lives may end up less productive, more burned out, and ultimately more likely to leave an employer than those who have a full life outside of work.
"I'm a recovering workaholic," admits Jullien Gordon, a former recruiter and founding partner of New Higher consulting, in a post on LinkedIn. All throughout college and in his professional career, Gordon says he thought he was a high performer. But he finally admitted he was a workaholic and began to explore the difference in beliefs and behaviors between high performers and workaholics.
"High performance and workaholism looks the same on the outside," states Gordon. "They both look like hard work. The BIG DIFFERENCE is how the individual feels on the inside about who they are in relationship to their work. A high performer works hard in healthy sustainable ways and feels happy and inspired. A workaholic works hard in unhealthy unsustainable ways and feels unhappy and burned out."
Here are the main differences between high achievers and workaholics according to Gordon.
1) Doing business vs. being busy
A high performer's primary goal is to do business, create value and achieve results, while a workaholics' number one goal is to simply be busy, says Gordon.
2) Knowing when enough is enough vs. never enough
A high performer has a clear definition of success and knows what results matter and what results don't. A workaholic doesn't know what enough is, Gordon says, and is always focused on more because they lack a clear definition of success.
3) 100% at the right time vs. 110% all the time
When their number is called, Gordon says a high performer knows when to turn it up. They don't buy into the illusion of 110%. They know that 110% is unsustainable, while a workaholic has difficulty prioritizing.
4) Knowing your value vs. letting others determine it
A high performer knows their self-worth and can work with a sense of freedom, while a workaholic relies on external validation from their bosses, colleagues, and others.
5) Proactive vs. Reactive
Gordon says a high performer is proactive about their time and work, designing their day around the most meaningful and important things. On the other hand, a workaholic is reactive about their time and work, and can allow distractions through emails, phone calls, drop-ins, and other unplanned events throughout a work day.
6) Focusing on what you can control vs. what you can't
A high performer focuses on their effort, judging themselves against their own standards. While a workaholic, Gordon explains, focuses on the outcome and their income.
"Even when you think you do your best, the outcome that occurs and the income that is derived from it is not fully in our control."
7) Putting self first vs. self second
A high performer," says Gordon, puts themselves first because they know that by doing so, it allows them to serve others at a higher level. "It's actually selfless because they want to give first-class service to those they work with and for."
A workaholic puts others before themselves. "This appears to be selfless, but it's not sustainable."
To sum it up, according to Gordon, workaholics do work to look important while high performers look for important work to do.
As our bathroom scales might be able to tell us after too many holiday parties, yes, we can have too much of a good thing. Working hard to get the best out of yourself is a positive, surely, but working to excess isn't.
Something to consider as we begin the new year.