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Climbing the Ladder of Excess: Five Phases of a Workaholic

You’ve committed yourself to twelve-hour workdays, you can probably juggle five tasks at once, and you respond to emails in your sleep. All these signs point to being a model employee … right? Well, not exactly. Since transforming into a stellar superhuman employee, you may have also become a workaholic. See which phase of workaholism you’re in and how over-commitment to your job might be putting your sanity, health, and personal relationships at risk.

1. You’re the first to arrive on Mondays and the last to leave on Fridays.
Your motto is often go big or go home, so you’ll work long hours to get the job done. You’re an overachiever in every sense, and you won’t let anyone outshine you. Even on your days off, you’re glued to your BlackBerry—after all, your work email is conveniently hooked up to your personal mobile device. At this point, you’re potentially toeing the line between optimism and delusion, meaning you’re most likely in denial about your extreme working habits. You’re telling your friends and family, “Don’t worry! I’ll be there!” Luckily you haven’t missed any major life events like weddings and graduations … yet.

2. You no longer keep in touch with friends and/or you have a troubled personal life.
At this stage, your work life slowly (or maybe quickly) takes over. Prior to this stage, you were able to attend life’s major milestones, but you now find yourself giving excuses about your absence in the most creative ways. You really want to be there! You just can’t make it because there is “so much work to be done.” If you are in a relationship, you might also find a disgruntled significant other becoming more hostile as time goes by. Your belief that work takes precedence over your relationship and leisure time might account for the gap widening between the two of you. You might be thinking, “But my happiness is found in my work. Why doesn’t anyone understand?” Personal relationships need the same care and attention that you’ve dedicated to your work life.

3. The only parties you attend are networking events, client dinners, or conferences.
Even though your life is consumed by work, it doesn’t mean you don’t have time to meet people. Instead, you’ve replaced your social life with networking events, taking clients to dinner (for business, of course), and other large business conferences. It’s both what you know and who you know—right? As a result, you’d rather take the time to network with others only in your line of work instead of developing your personal life.

4. Your friends and family have learned to stop expecting time from you.
Graduating to stage four of being a workaholic means your loved ones can predict your frequent absences and clever excuses. Instead of being disappointed, your friends and family have stopped inviting you to social events altogether. They can’t even catch you on a sick day because you haven’t taken one in years! Not even the greatest flu will keep you from completing your daily work tasks. To call you dedicated is truly an understatement.

5. Your baby is calling the nanny “mommy.”
If the prior four stages haven’t hit home, maybe hearing your baby say “mommy” for the first time will—especially when the words are addressed to your nanny. You’re no longer the woman of the house. Even your dog only listens to the nanny when she asks him to sit. If this isn’t a wake-up call, what is? At this point you should reassess your priorities and take a long-overdue vacation to see what you feel is a fulfilling life.

Try repositioning your goals toward working smarter and not harder. It might not seem like you are overworking yourself now, but in several years, your productivity will likely decrease. Still not convinced you’re a workaholic? Be one step ahead of your work-obsessed tendencies by taking our quiz!

What helps you balance your work-life schedule? Share your tips with your fellow community members by posting a comment down below.

By Crystal Akins for Excelle