Workoholism


[Anna] There is one challenge I have been struggling with for many, many years. I'm workaholic, literally addicted to work. Or maybe rather to being effective and busy, as the definition of work may vary and in our case there is no real separation between work, passions and private sphere.

What do I mean by workaholism (or effectivenessaholism, or busyholism)? I mean that I cannot stop working and doing things. If not Andrea, I simply would not take rest. I always have the feeling I can do more, not only for the project or any other work, but also for developing myself. I have a super-long to-do list and I'm addicted to ticking tasks as they get done. It is just that with every task done I add three more. And very often these are not things I objectively have to do, these are things which I want to do. Usually they excite me, which is even more tricky. I'm very easily thrilled at things, but adding constantly something more can only finish one way. Frustration. Burnout. Low mood. Conflict with partner. Being constantly nervous and tense. Not having pleasure from the present moment, from meeting others, from things which most people consider relaxing, because I feel guilty as my mind does the math on how many things I could have done meanwhile.

It must be said that since a few years I'm very aware of my stage and I consciously work on changing it. I remember the first year of our journey was really tough from that point of view – it was difficult for me to enjoy the trip, the experiences and the people we met because I was always thinking about the stories we had to write, the people we had to contact, the crowdfunding rewards we should have prepared, the posts in the social media we should spread, etc. What's more, I expected Andrea to work as hard and I was very frustrated having to wait for his results. As you can imagine, it ended up in some serious discussions and spoiled quite a few otherwise wonderful experiences. Already in the third year of our journey, in South America, the situation was much better. Beside two or three moments when for a few weeks I came back to old habits, I was able to relax more and take it easier. With the pandemic and the fact of spending the whole day in front of the computer old demons woke up again. And this time I took the strong decision to not let them take the driver's seat.

We don't treat workaholism seriously. It is an addiction, but of the kind our society rather appreciates and fosters. We like to be busy. Busy people seem successful and important. We may feel frustrated when our partner spends extra-hours at work but usually we understand it – it's his/her career/passion/mission. But workaholism is a disorder. And it's not easy to get out of it. I decided a million times I would stop accepting more projects, stop working more than x hours, taking more time for myself and only now, after a few years of struggle, I feel I start to make some serious progress. Guilty feelings when I rest didn't disappear completely, but at least I'm able to relax also when Andrea is not around – which was not that obvious before. He helped me a lot, like convincing me that watching a movie in English and not in a foreign language (so at least I learn something) is also ok. Showing me that the beauty of life is hidden in small pleasures – a good coffee, a piece of cake, a nice chat, a walk along the seashore. He forced me, quite literally, to stop, although I'm not very easily forced to anything. Thank you for that, you have to admit I made progress. ;)


Another thing which helped me a lot are books and initiatives which speak about workaholism, about the culture of effectiveness, which capitalism impose upon us, about burnout in a more holistic way, showing how our system works and what are the consequences of it, also for me. I mentioned many of them in the last changemaker story. To prepare for it I had a long chat with Natalia Sarata from RegenerAkcja and I read quite a few books recommended by her. Both helped me a lot. I hope they can help or at least inspire you as well. To read it, have a look here.

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We are Anna and Andrea, a Polish-Italian couple traveling around the world. We are looking for changemakers,  in order to describe and share their stories.

Our journey is based on exchange: story telling and other skills in exchange for a place to sleep and food. 
 

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