Are You A Workaholic? How To Stop Obsessing Over Your Job & Material Possessions

Always working and wanting, but nothing ever changes? This can help you fix the problem.

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Are you a workaholic? A person who compulsively works excessively hard and long hours?

Or are you a "wantoholic," which means you're someone who always wants something in order to give them a sense of purpose and make them feel better?

Are you quite possibly both?

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You may be a workaholic if you:

  • Are always thinking about work
  • Get stressed even when not at work
  • Are an excessive perfectionist so you don't feel satisfied
  • De-value your personal priorities
  • Don't take real vacations or cannot "switch off" when on vacation
  • Find that your mind constantly wanders back to work when you're engaged in other activities
  • Keep working hard despite being sick, putting work ahead of your health
  • Don't feel well or like you are thriving, or suffer constant headaches or fatigue, for example
  • Make yourself too accessible by constantly replying to emails out of hours or answering your work phone during evenings and days off
  • Hiding work from loved ones so they don't have a go at you
  • Micro-manage and fail to delegate effectively
  • Can't say "no" easily to work
  • Can't say "yes" easily to things outside of work
  • Take on more than you can realistically achieve in a time period
  • Work through your lunch break, or don't make time to stop in the day
  • Don't make time for fun and other hobbies or activities

If you recognize a few of these in yourself, then you may have just defined yourself!


If you're a "wantaholic," here are some typical signs:

  • You're prone to thinking about the future more than the present
  • You find yourself in unsatisfactory relationships
  • You find yourself obsessing about food in some way
  • You have a tendency to create drama when everything seems to be going well
  • You are constantly coming up with new ideas before seeing old ones through fully
  • You engage in obsessive behavior — about hobbies, exercising, work, relationships — that could be described as more than just passion
  • You have changed your business model or job more often than average
  • You push your children or partner to succeed beyond them being happy, so you can place them on a pedestal and boast about them
  • You talk about what you desire more than what you have
  • You feel dissatisfied, despite your life seeming to be successful
  • You feel incomplete or lacking purpose consistently

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Quite simply, this was me a few years ago. I was definitely a combination of the two, to the extent I made myself ill and unhappy.

I resonated in a constant state of working incredibly hard and yet feeling little satisfaction, despite having a highly successful business, three wonderful children, a stunning home, and enough money.

The niggle that sits inside you calling your name will eventually shout loud enough for you to pay attention to it. At some point, you'll realize how out of balance your life is, how your relationships are suffering — or maybe you can't even find time to have a relationship, despite wanting one.

Perhaps your health will be affected, or you'll finally see that everyone else is having more fun than you and that you deserve a piece of the pie. Perhaps you'll ask yourself, "Is this all there is?"


You wonder if maybe you deserve to have some fun, rather than everything seeming like such hard work. You may recognise that you haven't been able to enjoy your successes because you have been too busy moving onto the next thing you thought would make you happy — the next want!

Why does this happen?

Usually, because there's a lack of self-worth and self-love, which may have been present in childhood. You may have grown up struggling with money or starved of affection, so you strive as an adult to have what you didn't have then. But now, you don't know where to draw the line.

You strive in adulthood to prove yourself, desperately seeking a purpose. Only you find that whatever you thought would give you satisfaction, doesn't.


How can you do things differently?

The answer to that varies from individual to individual. I found that reading self-help books — another obsession at one stage of my life — wasn't the answer. Reading gave me insights, but self-help books didn't tailor those insights to my life, my personality, or my circumstances in order to help me shift away from it.

Videos, workshops, online programs — they all had the same less-than-optimal effect.

I was an incredibly busy woman with a lot on my plate who didn't have time for lengthy processes. I just wanted a fix.

I would reward myself every time I managed to say "no" to something and give myself a virtual pat on the back when I finally managed to create some kind of boundary, but it never lasted and wasn't consistent. I'd engage in visualizations, meditations, journaling sporadically.


My house was filled with notes everywhere to remind me of how I needed to change and find balance — to have some fun! Of course, all this was doing was feeding my "wantaholic" nature, because it permitted me to obsess about obsessing!

It took several failed long-term relationships, years of struggling with weight and body image, never feeling like I could coast and revel in the success of my business, and never feeling I got the recognition I deserved before submitting to chronic fatigue. 

This pushed me into action, or in-action to be more precise. I had time to recover — because there was no other choice.

I didn't want to see a therapist because there wasn't actually anything mentally "wrong" with me. I was a fully functional, bubbly, engaging human being. I just needed something more in my life.


I needed more fun, more "me time," more health, more control, more from a relationship, and certainly more balance.

My solution was finding myself a coach — someone who understood me and connected with me, who would believe in me and hold me accountable.

Being obsessive and hardworking as I was, you can imagine how I reveled in the work needed, the deadlines I could hold myself to with accountability, the processing, and lists — but it worked! It plucked out of me what I had been hiding from and gave me ways to work with it.


Final tips to shift from being a workaholic and wantaholic.

The first step is in recognizing the issue, which this article is aimed at doing.

I believe the following tips are the most useful aspects to work on:

  • A baseline of where you are, so you see yourself on paper and have something to shift away from
  • Understand who you are — your purpose, needs, fears, blocks, values, and beliefs
  • Develop boundaries, effective communication techniques, leadership and mindset skills, and manifestation techniques around energy
  • Put it into practice and play with it — have fun, use accountability, process, and learn without heaviness
  • Reflect on your growth and celebrate!

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Dr. Rana Al-Falaki is a life and business coach helping women take steps to feel successful and create balance in a fun, practical way. She is the author of the number one best-seller Women Who Want More: How To Create a Balanced & Fulfilled Life. You can contact her directly via her website.