If you\u2019re working way too many hours, you might be in danger of becoming a workaholic. What started off as an admirable effort to get ahead may have become a progressively time-consuming and obsessive compulsion that veers into the area of work addiction. How do you know if you are a workaholic? Here are some warning signs to look out for. Note that the good news is that you can change them \u2013 or get help to treat them if work becomes an addiction. Work is the Most Important Thing in Your Life Obsession in any area of life is not a good thing. This applies equally well to work as anything else. In fact, cataloging endless hours on the job is one of the quickest ways to developing a work addiction. When you keep on working, despite fatigue, other responsibilities, even to the neglect of your own physical well-being, you are not doing yourself any favor at all. The more hours you devote to work, the more hours you will devote to work. It\u2019s a self-perpetuating endless cycle. How working too much becomes addiction is not hard to figure out. Addiction, in the simplest definition, is the obsessive pursuit of anything despite growing negative consequences. When you only think about work, only concern yourself with all things work-related, your life has already begun to spiral out of control. You\u2019re not well-rounded any longer, but focused solely on work, work, and more work. This is not healthy and is a sure sign that there\u2019s trouble either already apparent or well on its way. Of course, you could cut down on your hours, but when you\u2019re away from the job, if you\u2019re constantly checking emails and voice messages and planning or strategizing or taking meetings, guess what? You\u2019re still working. Where\u2019s the balance in that? When your relationships with family and friends begin to suffer and you still cling to your obsessive need to work incredibly long hours, you are showing classic signs of being a workaholic. Social Life Disintegrates in Favor of Work Most people go to work and also leave room in their lives for interaction with others in the form of social activities. But a workaholic gradually withdraws from most, if not all, social interaction that doesn\u2019t have to do with work. This doesn\u2019t occur overnight, but the excuses for not meeting up with your friends for a weekly get-together add up over time and result in a depleting of your social life to the point where everything is all about work for you. Why do people socialize, anyway? There\u2019s a feeling of community and good-will, sharing of conversation and experiences that helps balance our lives and make us feel complete and whole. It\u2019s a form of relaxation to be able to converse with our family and friends in casual and non-work terms that\u2019s healthy and contributes to our satisfaction with and overall quality of life. If you find yourself blowing off all invitations to go out with friends, or only interact with others when it has something to do with your job, you should circle this in red pen and do something about it sooner rather than later. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy is more than just a proverb. It\u2019s a recipe for workaholism. Vacations are a Thing of the Past Everyone needs time off from work. This includes extended periods of more than a day or so to rest and revitalize. Usually people take vacations in order to get back their zest for life, to feel more in balance, or just to get well-needed sleep. But the workaholic can\u2019t seem to find the time to devote to being away. If it\u2019s not related to work, as in a trip connected with the job, the workaholic just can\u2019t afford the time. At least, that\u2019s what he tells himself and others, mainly the family but also well-meaning friends. How long has it been since you took a vacation? And don\u2019t include trips where you piggy-backed a so-called vacation by taking the family along. If you were going on the company dime and devoted 50 to 75 percent of your time (or more) to work responsibilities, you\u2019re just deluding yourself that it was a vacation at all. So, getting down to the nitty-gritty, when was your last real vacation? If it\u2019s been years, you\u2019ve definitely sold yourself \u2013 and your family \u2013 short. And you may have a problem of work addiction. Remember that a vacation doesn\u2019t need to involve expensive trips or really lengthy periods of time. But it does need to have your full concentration on the vacation and the people you\u2019re with. No work during vacation \u2013 that should be your mantra. It\u2019s tough to cut the strings that bind you to work, but it\u2019s absolutely something you\u2019ll need to do in order to overcome workaholism. Suggestions You Cut Back Greatly Annoy You Chances are that your long hours away at work have created tension at home with your spouse or partner. It is also likely that your close friends, and perhaps even your boss or co-workers, have noticed how many hours you work and have commented about it to you. Most of these conversations center around a suggestion that you cut back on the amount of time you spend on the job, thinking about the job, obsessing about the job. And most likely these suggestions that you\u2019re working too hard are a source of great annoyance and irritation to you. That is, they are if you\u2019re a workaholic. If you aren\u2019t, and have just been logging some really long hours to finish a project, then you\u2019ll be able to laugh it off and reply that they\u2019re right, you do need a break. For the workaholic, though, any suggestion that they\u2019re obsessed with the job is taken as a personal affront. Instead of spurring them to cut back, such talk only increases the workaholic\u2019s dedication to the job. Maybe he or she views it as a threat, something that they have to tackle with even more resolve in order to forestall another person gaining advantage. In any event, if you\u2019ve become annoyed or irritated when others mention they think you\u2019re working too much and should take it easy, you could have a problem of work addiction. Only Work Brings you Happiness When self-worth is tied up in work, there\u2019s a problem. Sure, it\u2019s good to identify with our successes and be justifiably proud of our accomplishments, when we only find happiness \u2013 seemingly \u2013 in things related to our job or career, there\u2019s something that\u2019s out of balance. Life is more than just going to work and doing things related to work. If that\u2019s all our everyday existence consists of, we\u2019re being way too one-sided. Do you only light up when you hear yourself \u2013 or your work \u2013 praised by others? Do you feel that who you are as a person is directly tied to how much of a work output you generate? Do you need to be the top of the sales list or the first one into work and the last one to leave to feel worthwhile and happy? Is work the only thing that brings you happiness? If so, you\u2019re a prime candidate for being a workaholic. Remedies for this include developing interests outside of work that generate a feeling of self-accomplishment and happiness. Whether that\u2019s a hobby, recreational activity, going to school or taking up a class to learn something new doesn\u2019t matter. What does matter is striving to find joy in things other than only those related to working. Stress is a Constant Presence Non-stop pressure, endless deadlines to meet, real or arbitrary hurdles to overcome \u2013 all are the hallmarks of stress. Workaholics are always creating their own stress, and can\u2019t seem to exist without it. When stress continues unabated, however, the human body begins to break down. Stress takes an incredible toll on our physical condition, mental abilities, and emotional health. In short, non-stop stress can reach a point where it can kill us. Is work really worth all that built-up stress? A workaholic doesn\u2019t recognize stress for what it is. Stress may creep up on him or her and be attributed to a bug going around, or an inability to sleep due to a crashing deadline, or something else altogether. The workaholic will never admit to having too much stress. He or she will defend the work obsession as necessary and completely within bounds. There\u2019s not a problem and whatever the work schedule is, it is perfectly under control. The truth is, however, that it is anything but that. The more you work the more stress you build up. And the more stress you build up, the worse it is for your overall health and well-being. How does someone who finds work is becoming too much find relief from stress? There are many ways to overcome the effects of stress, and to prevent it from building up. These include meditation, yoga, Pilates, deep breathing exercises, vigorous physical exercise and counseling. Inability to Play Do you even know what it feels like to play? Do you ever allow yourself the luxury of doing something just for you \u2013 that is wholly independent of anything work-related? If you\u2019re a workaholic, you rarely, if ever, have any free time, and you can\u2019t even conceive of doing anything other than work. Furthermore, when you do have an idle hour or so away from work, you find that you don\u2019t even know what to do. In short, you suffer from an inability to play. Out of practice for who knows how long, you simply find yourself lost. Your mind drifts right back to work. That\u2019s your refuge. That\u2019s where you feel at home. You know what to do, and there\u2019s always more to do. When you can\u2019t play, can\u2019t relax, can\u2019t be yourself without it having anything to do with work, you\u2019re on the road to being a workaholic \u2013 if you\u2019re not already there. What\u2019s the solution? You\u2019ll have to force yourself to do things that don\u2019t have anything even remotely to do with work. Go to a play, see a comedy act, and enjoy a family outing at the circus or amusement park or a nearby lake. Be with others, and really be with them. Don\u2019t bring your Smartphone or Blackberry. Leave the laptop at home. If you really want to rediscover the ability to play, it has to be all about play. Work can\u2019t have any part in it. Family Life Suffers As with any addiction, family life suffers when one member of the family is a workaholic. No one in the family is spared from the effects of workaholism. When a family member \u2013 usually a parent \u2013 is a workaholic, the spouse or partner and children gradually see less and less of that person. Relationships become strained at best, and disintegrate at worst as the addiction becomes progressively worse. Sure, working as hard and as long as you do may bring more financial stability to the family, but at what cost? And if you\u2019re working because you feel more at ease and whole while working rather than being with your family, you\u2019re using work as an excuse to feed your addiction. This is only harming you and your family. When you\u2019re not there \u2013 even if you\u2019re there physically at the table or sitting in the living room \u2013 to take care of your responsibilities with the family, other negative consequences are likely to ensue. Children may start to do poorly in school, get in trouble with drugs and\/or alcohol, get in fights. Your spouse may feel emotionally adrift and seek solace elsewhere. This could be anything from going to work, having an affair, getting involved outside the home in other activities, or engaging in substance abuse -- and this is only a partial list. The point is that when you abdicate your family responsibilities in favor of your obsessive compulsion to work, work, and more work, there are bound to be some serious negative consequences at home with the family. As an old saying goes, \u201cHome is where the heart is.\u201d That\u2019s where your heart should be as well, not back at work with your endless hours spent chasing an elusive and self-induced goal. Workaholics are Driven Many gurus talking about success mention drive as an admirable trait. In the case of a workaholic, however, drive takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of drive, the workaholic is driven. This is another symptom of being a workaholic, the compulsion to work, the drive to work. It goes far beyond being motivated to succeed. Motivation is a positive thing. Being driven is totally the opposite. When you are driven to work, you are obsessed with work. It consumes you to the point where your entire sense of self-worth and self-esteem are wrapped up in your job, how many hours you put in, how well others perceive you, how far and how fast you can get ahead of all the others. It\u2019s not easy overcoming workaholism. It\u2019s certainly not easy to step back from being driven. How do you go about it? There is help available. Counseling Can Help Treat Workaholics Counseling is one of the best approaches to help treat workaholics or those who have experienced a problem with workaholism. This counseling can be on an outpatient or inpatient basis. Some residential addiction treatment facilities specialize in treating workaholics and offer a well-rounded program of therapeutic modalities tailored to the individual\u2019s needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, or other forms of counseling or psychotherapy may prove the most beneficial in helping the workaholic to heal. Such counseling seeks to get to the underlying reasons why the person feels compelled to overwork, as well as to identify ways the individual can change his behavior to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Many times, individuals who are workaholics need help in terms of communication issues, learning how to overcome a drive for perfectionism or need to control, reconnect with their feelings, and rebuild their self-esteem. There are also 12-step self-help groups such as Workaholics Anonymous that serve as a long-term support network as the individual gets on solid footing in recovery from workaholism. Bottom line: If you\u2019re a workaholic, you\u2019ve identified with several of the signs of workaholism listed above. You can get help to overcome workaholism and learn to live a happy and more well-balanced life. There\u2019s no need to continue on the current path of endless work. If you want to live a better life, you can have it. Recognizing the problem and seeking help to overcome it is the first step.