Sunday, September 02, 2007

On Workaholism...

Robert Genn wrote on this topic this week. Here are a couple of pertinent paragraphs and quotes from the newsletter that I thought were particularly thought provoking - (pictures courtesy of the Evergreen State Fair)

Many of us do exhibit some of Workaholics Anonymous's well published "Seven Signs of Warning." Here they are:

1. Instead of accepting yourself, you seek approval and justification for your existence in work.
2. You work to escape your feelings, shutting out your true needs and wants.
3. You use work to tamp down the uncertainties of life by over-organizing and refusing to give up control, losing your spontaneity and creativity.
4. You create crises and get adrenalin highs by overworking to resolve indigenous problems, then suffer withdrawals into anxiety and depression.
5. You hoard work to insure you will always be busy, seemingly important and never bored.
6. You fear free time.
7. You're typically a perfectionist, unwilling to ask for help or delegate because no one can meet your standards.

In my experience there are six conditions needed for happy workaholism:

1. You have a philosophical understanding of the dangers lurking in all of the above.
2. You are more or less proficient at what you do.
3. You seem to be getting somewhere with it.
4. You have learned the arts of self-reliance and self-governance.
5. You have had other doors closed to you for reasons of health, family, ignorance, incompetence, misguided education or missed opportunity.
6. You secretly know that work is play.

"Human beings are of two classes: those whose work is work and whose pleasure is pleasure; and those whose work and pleasure are one." (Sir Winston Churchill)

Esoterica: Evolved creative work means finding a "zone" that the average worker knows not of. "As you work," said the British painter Francis Bacon, "the mood grows on you. There are certain images which suddenly take hold and you need to do them. The excitement and possibilities are in the working and can only come in the working." This is an eternally sanctified and valid attitude. It might represent our highest calling. Channeled, and yes, "balanced," it actually leads to personal happiness and possibilities for the common good. "Your work is to discover your work – and then with all your heart to give yourself to it." (Buddha)


Rebecca Bush said...

Thanks for sharing this post, Tara. I have to laugh at the juxtaposition of a discussion of workaholism with the bounty of the farm!
It raises such questions as: Was that sow an over-achiever for producing so many piglets?

Seriously, it is a challenge to maintain a healthy balance in life.

There is that saying about being a "Human Being not a Human Doing", in other words, that we're valuable already, not judged on our achievements.

Yet I deeply believe that we are here to make use of the gifts given to us and that there is no more worthwhile act than that of creation. And making art does take time...

For me the challenge is to be able to support myself monetarily and find enough time to be able to create my art. And have friends and eat, sleep and do laundry!

I can definitely learn how to let go of perfectionism at my day job. My favorite saying of the week is," Let go or be dragged"!

izzychat said...

Wonderful discussion, both of you have triggered my thought. Alas, when I have the green light to work - in other words, when duties are put aside, distractions abated, focus achieved, emotions clear and steady, then I am able to work. When I am able to work on my art, the motor of joy and exhileration pushes me and I do not want to sleep or stop. I suppose workaholism to me is like drinking a lake when one is near dehydration, instead of sipping a little bit at a time. Or taking advantage of momentum and riding the wave all the way to the bitter end. The remedy? Learning to trust that steady progress can bring longerlasting productivity and deeo satisfaction.