A friend who has a workaholic boss became really offended when my friend waxed lyrical about not wanting to work all the time and preferring to have more time with family should his life end abruptly. The boss countered “do you think I really want to work all the time?” This is probably a good question for most workaholics to ask themselves, myself included.
Work has become more than just pure toil and pains of labour. It has become fun, more aligned with passion, with a veil of impact and meaning attached to it, and a lot friendlier (ie. Restful) to the human physique. Perhaps more importantly, our expectations on what we can consume through our wages from labour has risen spectacularly. So work becomes even more central in our lives. And in most cases, we come to see it as so central it is such an integral part of our identities.
So it is strange that we still get offended when it is made explicit that we have allowed work to become so much of us. Maybe because something inside us realise that is true. That in the short term, while we may be enjoying the dopamine hits of problem-solving in work and earning a great income; in the long run, that is not what we are made for. We are made to be more than our worker selves.
And perhaps for some of us, it’s time to discover ‘what else’.