Business Friday: Are You a Workaholic?

“On my fifth birthday Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.’”—Sam Levenson

On Location with Joe FaraceMy own parents never gave me that particular piece of advice. My Dad worked in a steel mill, particularly an open hearth furnace. A hell-like inferno that often brought him home covered in burns most days but he was somehow expected to keep on working. One day, an explosive charge supposed to open the furnace and allow molten steel to pour into a huge bucket, failed to go off. As Second Helper he was sent to investigate, as he got near the charge it exploded, leaving him partially deaf but glad to be alive.

Most photographers don’t face those kinds of hazards but they do face another one that can easily wreck havoc upon them and their loved ones. I’m not Dr. Laura or Anne Landers but there are signs you can watch out for to see if you’re becoming a workaholic. These were brought to my attention from the Colorado Statue University Cooperative Extension and I’d like to share some of them with you along with some of my own thoughts.

  • Do you think that it’s OK to work long hours if you love what you’re doing? If so, you may be a workaholic. A corollary to this is telling yourself that you’re “doing this for the family.” This may really be lying to yourself, because if after all the hard work is done and you’ve lost your family, what was the point of working in the first place.
  • You may experience headaches, insomnia, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, muscle tension or ulcers. There’s another cliché that says “life’s too short,” and if these symptoms aren’t enough to convince you that you need to make some changes, maybe this next story will.
  •  You can’t wait to get off the phone with friends and they call less often than they once did. I find this particular symptom poignant, because of an incident that happened when I still owned a studio. I was working hard during our busy season when a friend called while I was out of the office. My wife gave me the message but I told her I didn’t want to call him back, because I was too busy. She urged me to call, because Ernie was concerned about how I was feeling. So I called him and we talked about how I was feeling and what projects we were both working on. When I got off the phone, I thanked Mary for urging me to call. When I got home that night, Ernie’s wife called to say he had died from a massive heart attack two hours after we spoke. He was worried about how I was feeling and I almost didn’t take the time to talk with him one last time. Don’t miss the time to talk to the people you care about, and care about you

Author: Joe Farace

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