How can workaholics break the cycle of addiction? The first step is recognizing the problem. Debra Weaver, a pastor's wife and mother of four who teaches part time at her children's school, recently made the decision to step down as director of women's ministries at her church after she recognized the toll her busyness was taking on her relationships at home.

Recognize the problem

"I was constantly on the phone or on the computer, and as a result, I was constantly getting mad at my kids," she recalls. "I knew it was time to give it up. For me, it was a matter of trusting God: Do I really believe that if I invest my time where God wants me to invest it – in my family – He will bless my ministry?"

Rebecca Robeson, a self-admitted workaholic, is not yet free of her workaholism. But she is becoming aware that she has a problem. Whenever she finds herself caught in the destructive cycle of work addiction, she thinks of a friend and mentor named Brenda. "Brenda has learned to say no," Rebecca says. "It irritates me, because she refuses things I wish she'd agree to do. More often than not, though, she says no to something good in order to say yes to something better – her family and her relationship with the Lord."

Whether we're bona fide volunteeraholics or simply over-functioning moms who have taken on too much, we need to ask ourselves: In our drive to create an illusion of self-worth that's based on what we accomplish, are we doing irreparable damage to our children, family and friends? If so, what are we going to do about it?

10 steps to finding balance

  1. Acknowledge you have a problem.
  2. Be accountable to someone for your schedule.
  3. Cut out half of your outside involvement.
  4. Don't add a new activity to your schedule without eliminating another.
  5. Allow time in your schedule for doing nothing.
  6. Set a time budget and live within it.
  7. Forget quality time – it's quantity time that counts.
  8. Cherish the time you have with your children now. It can never be reclaimed.
  9. Maintain your perspective. There's a time for everything; maybe it's just not now.
  10. If you're a workaholic, get help before it's too late.

Symptoms of workaholism often mask deeper emotional problems such as depression or low self-esteem. Consider getting outside help, either from a trusted pastor or counsellor.

© 1999 Elaine Minamide. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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