5 Signs You’re Seen as a Workaholic — But Not As a High Performer

Woman Stressed at Work


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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 19, 2024 at 9:25PM UTC

Just because you're the first to arrive at the office every morning and the last one to leave every evening doesn't mean that you're the top performer of your workplace. In fact, it doesn't even mean that you're performing well at all.

First things first: Working crazy long hours and giving 110 percent around the clock is, almost inevitably, going to lead to burnout

Second of all, there are some major differences between workaholics and top performers. In a 2014 LinkedIn post, renowned corporate speaker and self-proclaimed recovering workaholic Jullien Gordon writes that workaholism indeed looks a lot like high performance, but they actually occupy two very opposite ends of the spectrum.

Here's how to tell that you're not necessarily crushing it, you're just crushing your soul.

1. You have a hard time prioritizing.

While workaholics have a difficult time differentiating between priorities and tasks that can take a back seat, stressing over everything at once, top performers understand when and how to exert their energy and effort in a much more sustainable way.
"A high performer works hard in healthy sustainable ways and feels happy and inspired," Gordon explains in his post. "A workaholic works hard in unhealthy unsustainable ways and feels unhappy and burned out."

2. You need validation from others.

While workaholics are constantly trying to gain the validation and approval of their superiors and colleagues, high performers know their worth and perform periodic self-evaluations to continue to better themselves nonetheless.

3. You're just plain busy all the time (probably because of how you go about work).

High performers are focused on the results that come with doing business well. And they do this by being proactive about their time and work, tailoring their days and anchoring the most important tasks.
Meanwhile, workaholics "fill any space in time with busy work because they feel insecure doing nothing," writes Gordon. That said, they have little free time because they allow others to choose how their time gets spent working; rather than being proactive about their work, they're reactive to whatever arises throughout the day. 

4. You never know when enough is enough.

While high performers have a clear definition of success and work to achieve that, workaholics are always too hyperfocused on what's not enough because success is undefined.
"A workaholic doesn't know what enough is," Gordon writes. "I'm not good enough. This isn't good enough. I don't have enough time. I don't have enough support. They are always focused on more and seeking to maximize everything because they don't really know what success means to them."

5. You don't take self-care seriously.

"A high performer puts themselves first because they know that by doing so, it allows them to serve others at a higher level," explains Gordan. "At times it appears to be selfish, but it's actually selfless because they want to give first-class service to those they work with and for."
Meanwhile, workaholics always put the needs of others first. They may think they're being selfless by doing this, and though they have good intentions, they're really just burning themselves out. And, of course, burnout isn't good for anyone.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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