A common problem facing families is an absent life partner or parent due to ‘workaholism’. It’s largely because they have convinced themselves that business is all about busy-ness, and that as long as they give it their all, there’s not much else that can be done.
While we all know in theory that it’s less time consuming to work smarter rather than harder, the reality is we tend not to practise it.
When people start a business, there’s a real buzz from working for themselves and getting things off the ground. Their destiny is in their own hands, having set off with a dream that has inspired them. At this early stage, new business owners have to work hard because there’s nobody else to do the work if they don’t. This is the root of future workaholic problems.
Business owners tend to run on adrenaline. Pumped up, working long hours and overcoming great challenges. Every win imprints on their subconscious mind, linking hard work with success. These imprints are made deeper by the people they tend to meet, who are usually similar to them.

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Just like an alcoholic, business owners keep doing what they know is bad for them, damaging relationships due to their absence in the process. It’s the people around them, like their families, that suffer the most. The very last person to realise what is happening is the person with the problem. They might feel neglected, as friends become acquaintances and even staff members are driven away if they too aren’t workaholics.
What can you do to help them overcome their addiction to work?
As with any addiction, the first step is making them aware of the problem and showing them the consequences of their behaviour. The signs are often quite clear for outsiders, but not easily recognised by the workaholic. If the person needs help to see their problem, it is best to ask someone close to them and who they respect to be honest with them — a business partner, trusted employee, or a business coach.

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Some of the more obvious signs may include:
 Struggling to sleep at night, due to an overactive mind.
 Getting stressed and losing their temper at relatively minor things.
 Starting things without finishing them.
 Working late at night or during the weekends.
 Not listening to other people, who may be trying to help.
Once they are aware that there’s a problem, they have to take ownership of the situation. They need to know that if they repeat their actions, the results won’t change. It takes 21 tries to create a good habit, and the longer this behaviour has been a way of life, the longer it will take for them to change the bad habits.
The answers to the following questions will help develop a plan and time scale to reduce the hours worked per quarter, which in turn will lessen their stress levels:
 How many hours per week and days per year do they realistically want to work?
 What would they rather be doing instead of working all the time? This is really important, because if they don’t have a hobby or other pleasurable activities outside of work, they will continue to focus purely on work.
 Can they delegate some of their tasks to other people in the business? This will ensure they are working on the business as opposed to in the business.

Pieter Scholtz is the Master Licensee for ActionCOACH South Africa. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Media.