Becoming a Workaholic
Workaholism, like (I suspect) any other kind of "olism" is cultivated by a perfect storm of genetics, upbringing and circumstance. I had grown up with a father who considered mowing the lawn to qualify as a valid form of relaxation. I had the kind of curious mind that couldn't say "no" to any intellectual challenge, no matter how daunting.
Still, my path toward an imbalance with work was, ironically, paved with gold. I landed my dream job. I was the General Counsel of a public company - the top performing stock on the applicable exchange - before I turned thirty years old. My youth imbued me with just enough "Imposter Syndrome" to completely disrupt my work-life balance when my personal life started unraveling a bit. I had little control over upsetting personal events in my life, but felt I had a lot of control over my career path. It was easy to see where this was going.
I often told myself things like "If I get up at 4:30 AM, I can drive all the way downtown before rush hour and get a start on the day's activities." I still rarely left the office before 7:00 PM. The reality was that I no longer knew what to do with myself at home. I'd forgotten what kinds of books I liked to read. I was achy all the time from a recent car accident, but afraid to slow down.
A Hard Stop
Then, a friend asked me to play the part of "Wife" at his consulting company's elaborate "welcome weekend" for new recruits. The event was being held at the Ritz Carlton on Key Biscayne. He mentioned that it would be a great chance to sneak away and get some R&R. Deep in the trenches of burnout and struggling with my company's new CEO, I wasn't inclined to turn down a free weekend at a beach side Ritz Carlton. I wasn't inclined to turn down a free weekend at a Super 8 in Flint.
On the first day, my friend was whisked away for recruiting activities and I found my way to a round table with six "Real" wives, spearheaded by the male partner of one of the senior consultants. He was the embodiment of every positive gay stereotype - charming, outgoing and well groomed with a penchant for interior decorating. One of the women at the table smiled at him and tentatively asked him to describe what life is "really" like for the partners of consultants. The Partner gave a forced smile I wonder if anyone else noticed. "It's no so bad," He comforted, "The travel can be a bit much, but my partner is usually around on the weekends."
I had chatted with her earlier and knew that she had two small children at home. Ruefully, I wondered if she and the kids would be happy with a man who was "usually around on the weekends." Would I? Even worse, would I be happy "being" a person who was only around on weekends? It was a quick but profound exchange. Sometimes we don't realize we are on the wrong path until we see someone else going in that direction.
The following Monday morning, I was back to driving to work in a winter storm when - BOOM - I was rear-ended by the car behind me. A searing pain traveled up my spine as though it ripped every single muscle attachment on the way to my neck.
Twenty-four hours later, I was on mandatory bed rest for a month, with a thirty-day supply of prescription painkillers and 105 hours of physical therapy ahead. For once, I wasn't going anywhere. I had weeks to meditate on what I had realized and it was one of the most beneficial periods of my life. The accident was quite literally, a chance to stop moving and consider where I was headed.
Affirmation For Life's Hard Stops
Today, I will stop moving and truly listen to what my Spirit is trying to tell me. I will relax and quiet myself so that I can be a conduit for my Spirit's own message, so that this message can reach my heart without being contaminated by my own thoughts, fears, expectations, ambitions, and goals. I will clearly hear my Spirit when it finally tells me what it needs to tell me, asks of me what it needs to ask of me, and requires of me what it must require. Today, I am free from my expectations and am simply listening for the voice inside of my mind that will tell me how I am truly needed in the World, where I am truly needed in the World, and why I am truly needed in the World. I will stop moving and wait patiently for a loving, creative force to engage me in work greater than my own.
I've included stories, anecdotes and useful tips I've gained over my career as an Entrepreneur, Board Member, Executive and Senior Counsel. I hope you can find ways to navigate to your own dreams by learning from my experience! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want to share your own stories. Stay inspired!