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Am I addicted to Workahol?

I had to take a few weeks off the blog because work got to be a little bit crazy again. I finally made it through the tax deadline, and now I have a few moments to breathe before I start all over again for the next one.

I spend about half of my life stressed out and full in on tax deadlines. I put off chores and I put off taking care of myself and I put off having fun because I have to get the work done. In many ways, I'm ok with that. It's what I signed up for and I am not surprised by it at all. What I am surprised about is that I am happier in the busy time than I am in the slow time.

Growing up, my dad lived and breathed work. He would always be so proud of never having missed a day of school or work. He would work all day at his office and then come home and work all night in his home office. It was instilled in us from a very young age that hard work was value number one. I think my dad enjoyed his work and enjoyed the success he found in it, but there was probably also some avoidance and some pressure mixed up in there. It was a huge part of his identity. He had big plans for retirement that he never got to realize.

When my dad died a few years ago, it made me realize that I needed to have experiences now. I needed to stop putting things off for some far off future when I magically have more time. I started trying some new things. I picked up some new hobbies, I joined some races I had no business joining.

When the stupid plague hit and everything shut down, all of that stopped. Work from home just meant Work All the Time and it felt like having busy season for 18 months straight. Extended tax deadlines and changing all the tax rules didn't help. PPP loans, HRSA incentives, ERC credits, unemployment exclusions and recovery rebate claims were just all I did. All of life was just me and my computer.

Coming out of that depression is a process and it has forced me to realize some things about myself. I learned about therapy. I don't understand why it is helpful to talk to a stranger about everything being hard, but it is. And sometimes trying to explain yourself to that stranger brings out new realizations.

Every time I talk to my therapist, we talk about work. All work. All the time.

The past two months have been deadline months, so I have been insanely busy. I have been going to work at 8 am and staying until 1 am, just killing myself to get tax returns prepared. And, for the first time in a while, I felt happy.

I think there is part of that happiness that just stems from not having time to think about anything else. I don't have time to think about whether I'm happy or not. And part of it is that it feels good to work hard to accomplish a goal and then achieve that goal. And having a team of people working together for a goal is a big part of what was missing in the last year. All of that together built a few moments of enjoyment in my work. It was nice.

Now, I made it through that deadline and we got the work done. I have a few moments to breathe and do things that aren't work, and I find myself wondering what to do with it. It's frustrating to just be longing for a few minutes to do things for myself and then when I finally get it I don't do any of the things I wanted to do.

I guess right now I don't really know who I am outside of work. I don't want to have my whole life spent on work. I don't want my whole identity to be my career. But there is a part of me that only feels valuable when I'm working and working hard. And I know that I can use that work to avoid other aspects of my life. I worry that I'm using my work to hide from my life.

All of this is to say I am working on finding balance. I have things I want to try and I am working on making the time for them. I'm learning how to reframe my value system to include things that aren't work. I'm looking for activities that will give me goals and purpose, and maybe even some new friends.

I'm working on it.

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