Work: When You Can’t Turn It Off

Your work is important but it isn’t who you are. “You’re not having a heart attack. It’s stress.” A doctor...

Your work is important but it isn’t who you are.

“You’re not having a heart attack. It’s stress.” A doctor said this to me at least once every decade of my life starting in my twenties. Lying there in the hospital after multiple tests I would promise to go slower, take more time off, reshuffle my workload and create more margin. And I always followed through…for awhile.

I was proud that I was a hard worker and it felt especially good when others noticed and affirmed my high capacity to get things done. My heroes were successful leaders who got up extra early each day to employ effective, efficient strategies to reach amazing goals.

To kill it at work required that I get killed in the process.  

I thought the trick was just better time management, smart delegation, and even more prayer so I got really good at each of those. The problem was something else entirely.

I was addicted to success and the adrenaline it produces. What I really needed to grasp was something I was certain I already had a handle on my true identity.


Signs You Might Be A Workaholic

  • You don’t believe you’re addicted to work, you’re just a hard worker and proud of it
  • You often find it hard to be emotionally or mentally present with your family and friends
  • You feel “happiest” in high-pressure challenges or with high powered people
  • You find “average” people to be boring or uninteresting
  • You need others to appreciate how hard you work
  • You are afraid people will think you’re slacking if they see you resting or taking time off
  • You feel uneasy, anxious, not “yourself” if you’re not busy -checking emails, having meetings, texting, making phone calls, keeping things moving, etc.
  • You think people who take time off are slacking
  • You’re afraid of losing _____________ if you don’t keep working
  • You work and live as if you’re limitless
  • You think it won’t get done if you don’t do it or that it’s all up to you
  • You value your bottom line more than a balanced life
  • You’re still at work in your head when you take time off
  • You have a hard time saying “no” to new opportunities, networking, overtime, your boss
  • You overvalue others approval of your achievements
  • You regularly take stimulants to get up or drink alcohol to come down
  • You ignore negative physical symptoms like stomach issues, chest pains, headaches, weight loss/ gain
  • Your relationships at work are often strained because of your impatience, disappointment, perfectionism, anger, rage, criticism, drivenness, overtime requirements, email rants, off-hour texts, and calls, etc.
  • Your relationships at home are often strained because you miss, forget or arrive late for birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, special events or because you can’t turn work off or because you’re always tired, disconnected or unresponsive
  • You really believe your family and friends understand why you need to work so much
  • You wouldn’t know yourself without your work or job title


There are a ton of reasons that drive us to overwork.

Here are a few: 

  • We’re subconsciously trying to prove that someone else was wrong about us
  • We’re subconsciously trying to prove that someone else was right about us
  • We have this notion concerning the mystery called “our potential” and we can’t seem to stop working until we finally feel we have reached it ( and we chase this illusion for our lifetime)
  • We’re working for a big, audacious, life-altering cause and we believe that everything rises and falls on us; our performance, our leadership, our vision, our passion, our charisma, our fundraising, etc.
  • We’ve lost or never fully known how we are infinitely more than our achievements and performances- that our highest, unshakable value is actually deep, at the soul level. And so we attach ourselves to all the dramas and duties of our tasks. We become (in our minds) what we do and, often, with tragic consequences, we forfeit who we are.

Your work is important but it isn’t who you are.

All the work I do these days is important but I don’t look to it to determine who I am.

For far too long, I allowed how much I worked and what outcomes it achieved or didn’t achieve to define who I was.  I worked FOR approval and achievement. But not anymore.  All the work that we do comes and goes.  It’s always variable.  It is a constantly changing seascape.

These days, I dial into the constant… the one thing that never changes… my True Identity that I experience in God each day.  It is the place I work FROM… where I’m already approved of and already have a meaningful purpose for my life. I find in this place, I rarely feel the need to prove anything by working more than I really should.

How about you?

FREE Resources to help you on this topic:

  • If you haven’t already received our FREE ebook “Leading From A Healthy Soul,” you can get your copy by clicking HERE. Whether you’re leading your kids, home, business, team, or ministry, this FREE resource that we’ve written, can help you better understand what may be sabotaging your best efforts.  Get you copy today.
  • Here is a link to a recent podcast we did on “Healthy Ambition.”  Have a listen.
  • Here is a link to a blog post we did on 27 Quotes On Healthy Ambition. Have a look. 


his is a guest post from our friends David and Caron Loveless who started Live True, an organization that helps leaders who want to live, love, and lead from a healthier soul. This post was originally posted on the Live True Blog.