Neon sign that reads work harder to illustrate the difference between a good work ethic and a workaholic
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

What is the difference between have a good work ethic and being a workaholic?

For years, I’ve been proud of my work ethic. I’ve sacrificed, I’ve worked 100 hour weeks, and I’ve always asked myself “how can I do more?”

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Gary Vaynerchuk encourages “hustle” nonstop. Ben Franklin invented multiple service-based government agencies. And, let’s face it, every American entrepreneur built their company by picking themselves up by their bootstraps, right?

Unfortunately, what’s modeled for us by successful people isn’t always the whole truth.

I actually wrote a post about Gary Vaynerchuk’s success a few years ago.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s audience is mostly “wannabes” and complainers so his message is directed at them. Ben Franklin was speculated to be horrible father and no entrepreneur can do everything by themselves.

Here are some guidelines for helping to scrutinize the difference between a good work ethic and a workaholic:

A Workaholic:

  • Hedges on personal values to accommodate work demands.
  • Feels like if they don’t do their work, there will be a catastrophe. (In psychology, this is called “compulsion.”)
  • Typically is motivated only by the urgency of work, not necessarily the importance of work.
  • Doesn’t take breaks or allow for recovery time.
  • Often deals with great anxiety.
  • Doesn’t say “no” to new work and treats most tasks as priorities or fails to delegate effectively. (This is sometimes tied to perfectionism.)
  • Is unlikely to cancel due to illness.
  • Doesn’t “turn it off.”
  • Competes with others on how many hours they’ve worked.
  • Ties their work success with their personal worth.
  • Is focused on output quantity and tasks completed.

Someone With A Good Work Ethic:

  • Makes the most of the time available.
  • Says “no” to non-essential or low-impact work.
  • Says “no” to work outside their capacity or ability.
  • Is willing to change their work based on feedback because improvement is paramount.
  • Can provide quality work consistently because work-in-progress is managed effectively.
  • Makes time for fun and personal enjoyment and isn’t afraid to “turn off.”
  • Tend to be high-performers and is passionate about work.
  • Competes with their own work and achievements.
  • Actively manages burnout symptoms.
  • Is focused on quality and output value.

2 Minute Action:

Take this quick Risk Assessment to see if you have symptoms of workaholism or if you’re at risk.

Additionally, you can take 2 minutes to reach out to someone in your life and check in with them. It’s up to each of us to care, not only for ourselves but also for each other.

If you found this useful, here’s another post I wrote on hustle and when to apply it.

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