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I think I am becoming a bit of a sceptic in my too-close-for-comfort-to-old-age old age. I was recently at a work-related event where I was forced to engage in the ritualistic behaviour of small talk. I personally enjoy making small talk about as much as a root canal; a root canal, without freezing, while suffering from a hangover while a band of accordion players perform polka music at an absurdly loud volume. I do not enjoy small talk.

As a result of my vigorous disgust of this social norm, I am somewhat lacking in the motivation to become good at it and I do tend to try and avoid having to dig out this set of somewhat lacking skills whenever possible. Unfortunately, this was not an event I could have skipped in favour of staying home in my Lulu’s happily and contently Google searching anyone I was motivated to know more about. It should come as no surprise then that when someone shared with me that she was a workaholic happily married to the job, I suggested she should have an affair.

Apparently, this was not the response that was expected. I think I was expected to say things like “how great to show so much dedication”, or “your company is so lucky to have you.” I knew I didn’t give the anticipated response when she looked at me like a Kardashian would look at a Wal-Mart sales rack; a mixture of disgust and horrid fascination. I chose to focus on the thought that the words I offered were in deed fascinating and then proceed to ramble on as to why being married to the job isn’t a good thing. It went something like this…

A year is made up of 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes and now consider this: a typical worker works 35 hours per week, takes two weeks’ vacation with five public holidays and ends up working 1715 hours per year. (I am better at math than small talk). If you are married to your job and you are spending way more than the average amount of time working, then you are going to have to sacrifice that time from somewhere. Sleep maybe? According to a recent study done by the Insurance Company Aviva, Canada is the third most sleep deprived county in the world. When we give up sleep we increase our risk factors for accidents, illnesses and at least in my case – tantrums. The time has to come from somewhere; skipping out on time with family and friends, no longer playing or even watching your favourite sport. Eating at your desk so you can squeeze an extra 15 minutes of productivity in – hope you bought antacids in bulk.

What do you think is going to happen if you take a break from the job? Will the world stop spinning? Ross and Rachel took a break and they ended up just fine. There is a tremendous difference between being hard working and being a workaholic. A workaholic will be at the beach thinking about work, a hard worker will be at work thinking of the beach. That’s the difference.

Hard workers are able to balance life and work. Yes, they will work long hours when needed or miss the occasional event due to deadlines but they do not allow work to define who they are. In our current economy, hard workers may be working multiple jobs to make ends meet, which leaves little time for other activities, but given the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, they take it.

If you really are a workaholic, that’s not healthy. You need to take a break. It is okay to enjoy work but not be addicted to it. You need to find something that doesn’t come with a pay cheque attached that makes you feel passion. You need to have an affair on your job.


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