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12 Steps For Recovering Workaholics

Have you ever brought work with you on vacation or pulled double shifts without extra pay? Workaholic habits can be tough to break because they’re viewed as virtues in many circles. However, they can put a strain on your relationships, damage your health and even blemish your career by causing you to burn out. Follow, in no particular order, these 12 steps for recovering workaholics to improve your overall quality of life.

Have a talk with your boss
The first of our 12 steps for recovering workaholics is to discuss a more manageable schedule with your supervisor. Don’t mention that you consider yourself a workaholic or that you want to shift your priorities away from work, as your boss may view those points as signs of weakness. Instead, explain that you need a bit more time to address matters in your personal life. This subtle difference could save your job.
Focus on your long-term goals
Through the years, you may have lost touch with your true aspirations. This is why it’s important, as you attempt our 12 steps for recovering workaholics, to take the time to re-evaluate what matters most to you, both personally and professionally. Is this the type of work that you want to be doing for the rest of your days? Do your objectives include a home, a family and other specific experiences? Base your decisions on the kind of life you want years from now, not the nearest deadline.

Stop bringing work home
Your workday should end the moment you step out of the office, so avoid spending the evening in front of your laptop and ranting about your job to your friends and family. Our 12 steps for recovering workaholics also advise against answering business calls during dinner. You need to set boundaries for yourself. While occasional work-related calls are unavoidable, they should not become habit.
Nurture your neglected relationships
This step in our 12 steps for recovering workaholics is akin to the making amends one in AA; rekindle some of your old friendships and let the people you’ve disappointed in the past know that things are going to be different. If you’re in a committed relationship or you have a family, make sure to spend at least 20 minutes of quality time with your loved ones every day. You should also try to make new friends, since your previous circles may have enabled your addiction.
Take up a hobby
Don’t just watch television and go to sleep every evening after work. Instead, fill your free time with fun activities, preferably ones that get you out of the house. Our 12 steps for recovering workaholics also suggest that you make your hobbies part of the office small talk. This will remind your bosses that you now have personal matters to attend to, and hopefully they will keep this in mind when they schedule your workload.
Keep your social commitments
Workaholics need to schedule their free time just as they would any workday, and they need to be sure to stick to the plan. Make it a matter of pride that you always respect your social engagements. Once you’re used to the practice of scheduling your social time, you can take advantage of your compulsive nature to improve your personal life by calling your friends on a regular basis and making plans you’ll later feel obligated to honor.
Start exercising
You’re probably in need of a good workout if you’ve spent the last few years pulling five hours of overtime every day. After all, office ergonomics can only take you so far. Besides, physical activity can help improve your self-image, and you need something other than your job to boost your self-esteem. As part of our 12 steps for recovering workaholics, we recommend taking up a group sport so you can interact with others.
Start eating and sleeping regularly
Fighting a compulsion takes a lot of energy, which is why you should always regiment your meals and make sure you get enough rest at night. Resist the temptation to skip breakfast or lunch. Your body needs nourishment, and that takes precedence over any work issue. Taking care of your physical health will help to ensure that you have the mental strength to keep your priorities straight.
Step out during your breaks
Make sure to take all your breaks, including your entire lunch hour. Your days of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at your desk are over. To help you make the most of your downtime, our 12 steps for recovering workaholics encourage you to exit the premises at every pause so you can detach yourself from your work. The fresh air and change of environment will help you keep things in perspective.
Stop being a perfectionist
Contrary to popular belief, workaholics aren’t always appreciated by their employers because they have a tendency to micromanage every undertaking and work too hard for too little results. It’s imperative that you learn to let things go. Stop confusing the company’s quality standards with your own. Sometimes a project is good enough even though it’s far from perfect.
Make yourself dispensable
As a workaholic, you may have become indispensable in the office by taking on too many tasks and refusing to share your expertise, which makes it impossible to fully invest in a personal life since coworkers are likely to call whenever there is a problem. That’s why our 12 steps for recovering workaholics recommend that you lighten your load and train a few colleagues to perform your duties while you’re away. That way, when you clock out, you can truly disconnect from your job.
Use your vacation time
At this point, you may have banked several months of unused vacation. Use this time to get back in touch with what matters most to you. If you can, travel to a country you’ve always wanted to visit. This will help you separate your personal life from your professional one. Like the rest of our 12 steps for recovering workaholics, it’s all about making sure your career works for you, not the other way around.


It's important to remind yourself that you work to live, instead of living to work. If you live by the latter principle, you may end up working yourself into an early grave.

By Dimitri A.C. Ly


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