One of the developmental tasks of old age is called a life inventory. We take the time to look back at our life and assess our accomplishments, our failures, our dreams and limits. It is at this time we define who we really are. At the end of an inventory, some decide to live differently, in a manner compatible with their authentic / true self.
It is not necessary to wait until the senior years to evaluate life. The time is now to complete the inside job. Why wait to live authentically?
Journaling is a great way to bring the internal process out and make it part of your external life. It is a way of capturing those fleeting dreams of the mind and turning them into goals of today. By taking 5 or 10 minutes a day, you can discover or rediscover your interests, abilities, limits and passions. Capture the ideas that lead to satisfying work. Consider the following journal questions:
What gives your life meaning or purpose?
What can you do today to encourage your purpose?
What are your limitations: physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual?
Are there any steps you can take to overcome these limitations?
Can you accept your limits just as you embrace your abilities?
What do you really enjoy? ( Include hobbies like cooking or abilities like organizing or states of being like excitement)
Does your work include any of these activities, abilities or feelings?
Are there any opportunities in your workplace to engage in activities you really enjoy?
Are you living by someone else's expectation of who you should be?
What blocks you from living your life completely?
Do you have the support of your family, friends or therapist who encourage you to live positively and in a way that compliments your authentic self?
Think about the meaning of money in your life. Are your working to satisfy your monetary expectations or are you living the monetary dreams of others?
Can you take small steps to build the life you want to live?
Jan is a graphic artist for a major computer company. She is doing the kind of creative work she dreamed of doing when she was in college. After 5 years with the company, Jan is finding herself feeling tired when she is at work and anxious when she is not. Her family complains that she spends all of her off hours in her home office. She has missed half of her son’s soccer season. Her husband is angry and resentful he feels like a single father in a two parent household. Jan excuses her work focus on one project or another, always promising next month will be better.
Many people don’t know when to stop. They have become addicted to their jobs despite the damage to their health, relationships, and family life. The workaholic is unlike the person who at times will get caught up in job pressures. According to Bryan E. Robinson, author of Chained to the Desk (NYU Press, 1998), workaholism is an “obsessive compulsive disorder that manifests itself through self-imposed demands, an inability to regulate work habits and an over indulgence in work to the exclusion of most other life activities”.
The roots of the disorder are often found in childhood. The workaholic can be the children of alcoholics or workaholics. At the core of a workaholic is a deep seated unhappiness, fear of intimacy and low self esteem. Work becomes an escape from those negative feelings. Work becomes the way in which the workaholics define themselves and gain positive sense of self.
The effects of workaholism are far-reaching. The disorder can harm the individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual self. The avoidance of intimacy can destroy relationships. The partner of the workaholic is powerless and feels resentful. The children blame themselves for family problems. Many times these children grow up to be self-critical, depressed, and prone to addiction.
The workaholic family needs intervention. With the assistance of therapy and/or a 12-step program the workaholic and the family can learn to lead a balanced life style.