Workaholics anonymous [WA Meeting #2]

So, Jack is sure he doesn’t belong in part 1. And that’s what we’ll address in this part of the post.

Why doesn’t Jack admit to his workaholism?

Jack says he loves his work.

Here’s what this really means: Jack has no clue what he loves. He gave up on that long before. He applies sheer brute force into all work coming his way hoping he’ll eventually fall in love with it. What he’s really fallen in love with is the brute forceness and not the work. He’s like the creepy stalker who believes the harder he pursues the girl, the more easily she’ll fall in love with him.

Jack says he always likes to be perfect.

The standard response from workaholics is that they want to ensure everything is strenuously perfect. They want to double-check everything that has been checked seven times already. This is really Jack having exhausted his check-list early and spending an additional hour darkening every check-mark on the checklist. As Jason Fried explains in his book rework:

“[Workaholics] may claim to be perfectionists, but that just means they’re wasting time fixating on inconsequential details instead of moving on to the next task.”

Jack says he is dedicated to his work.

Okay. Fair. Let me chaff Jacks from the truly hard-working and dedicated. I can do this because some of the people I work with everyday set a good benchmark for hard-work and dedication. Of course, it’s very easy to put them in the workaholic category given how much they work. But they have none of the attributes mentioned in part 1. More importantly, none of them tell me I would fare better if I worked longer. Each of them repeatedly emphasize that I should find what I love and dedicate more time there. Jacks will never tell you that. They truly don’t care as long as you having something to work on at all times. The real hard-workers will never induce guilt by telling you how hard they have been working. They work whether you notice or not. And when it comes to credit for the work, they share it with you even if you did little. They make you feel guilty in a very special way.

I don’t have a choice.

He’s going down. This is Jack’s final defense. Jack has become inured to the habits of longer work. He can’t stop working without feeling guilty for not contributing enough.

Dilbert for part 2

What Jack fails to see is the impending doom. The fact that at some point soon, he won’t be needed anymore. That he will be replaced with someone young, smart, and creative. That he will leave in short notice, leaving behind a trail of anger, disappointment and resentment which will quickly be swept away in celebration for the next.

Everything he did to be noticed is now neatly packed inside a cardboard box. All those hours of tireless work gone in a single wipe of the hard-disk. No one’s here to meet the man who loved meetings.

There’s no better wake-up call for the Jacks than knowing the work will go on: with or without them. There’s always a choice on how you choose to script what will essentially form half your story. It could be a meaningless blur of work, meetings, and awards or it could be a meaningful appreciation for life, time, and finitude.

Your choice, Jack.

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