Hi, my name is Jon. I’m an addict. It does not matter what it is if it makes me feel good I do more of it.

But I Love It So Much!

I love my job, or more specifically, I love the work I get to do every day. Combine my love for work with my addiction problem and I end up working too much and spending too little time with my wife, or reading a book, or taking a walk.

When things are going well at work I have a sense of accomplishment, which feels good, and I want more. How do you get more of something? You just keep doing the same thing over and over again that got you that good feeling right?

Being Honest With Myself

Right now I have no problem identifying that my line of thinking, doing more of something will result in more pleasure, is wrong. When I am in a destructive cycle I am completely blind to this fact.

A destructive cycle is wanting one thing too much and being blind to the costs of achieving it. We also call this being obsessed with something. Ultimately these destructive cycles lead to some sort of meltdown for me when increased input does not lead to an equal or greater increase in output.

During a cycle I can’t stop thinking about whatever I’m obsessing about; I bring it to the dinner table, I bring it on a date, I go to bed with it. This damages my marriage and my mental health.

Thankfully I am getting better at recognizing and breaking these cycles. I can’t take the credit though, my wife usually notices and starts to warn me early on. Learning to listen to her concerns is something I need to get better at. My last obsession lasted about ten days before she got through to me and I recognized the error of my ways. That was yesterday.

Shortening the Cycle

There are a few things I am going to try to shorten this cycle. The first is obvious, listen to my wife. But what if you don’t live with someone?

Recognize the signs. If I am spending less time doing things that relax me, like reading, walking with my dogs, or doing chores around the house, these are pretty good signs I’m not balancing work and life very well.

I’m trying out a checklist of sorts. It is just a long list of non-work things that I can do each day. I made this list by observing what has been healthy for me in the past. I’m not going to check off everything on the list each day, but doing three or four a day is a good sign, and doing one or none is probably a bad sign.

Make yourself accountable to your peers. If you know your signs ask a coworker and friend to watch out for them. Most of the time someone other than yourself will recognize the signs much sooner than you will. There is a caveat, if you are going to make yourself accountable you have to be willing to listen when they warn you.

Getting it right feels great too. Excuse me while I add blogging to my list of non-work things to do.