Can You Be a Healthy Workaholic?

Can you be a healthy workaholic? Yes… but it requires grace.

There’s a lot of negativity around the word “workaholic”. It’s often used inaccurately to describe someone who simply loves the work that they do and is dedicated to their big picture vision.

I admit I’ve been a diligent, focused workaholic. I’m proud of it.

There is one very important thing that I learned from this, though. It’s that our tunnel vision and discipline can be the thing that gets us high on life… or punches us in the gut.

Yes, you can be the workaholic with razor sharp focus, but pay attention so that it doesn’t cause detriment to another aspect of your life. For example, posture at your desk, skipping too many workouts, eating processed foods to save time, or emotional and physical exhaustion. Or, you can be the workaholic who turns your drive and dedication into a healthy devotion to your business, goals, purpose, self-care and being mindful when someone has something to share with you.

Take care of yourself as you work your booty off to pay your bills. And if you have little ones, that is currently your most important job on Earth, so it’s okay if you aren’t looking up. Throw in an illness or accident, and there’s no way out until the kiddos get older. The ones who love you know you’re focusing on their safety and well being. They know that is the hat you’re wearing for a little while. And you should wear it like a boss and a focused workaholic, because you are committed 1000%!

There’s nothing wrong with being dedicated to your work and enjoying it immensely! Some of us simply have an internal drive that causes us to work hard with laser focus and be willing to make sacrifices to reach our goals. I loved parenting my two boys and can now look back with incredible pride as I watch them continue on to achieve and succeed.

The gut punch comes when you lose perspective. Just like everything else in life, moderation is vital when it comes to work.

Think about this: balance is a mix of work, wellness and creating. If you apply the focus and dedication you have for your work to your desire for equilibrium in all aspects of your life, you may be surprised how easy it is to create a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle that centers on your happiness and the happiness of those around you.

Yes, listen to your team, but ultimately it’s YOU, you need to count on. You must keep the faith.

To be the high-on-life healthy workaholic, you must constantly remind yourself that work is not everything. Inspiration comes from life, and most of life’s answers are hidden in the things all around us. I’m reminded often by wise folks that projects from the heart are a marathon, not a sprint. “We are in our infancy,” my colleague Kristen Alden encourages me. She is one of the most poised, yet gutsy girls I know.

When you decide to color your hair a funky color, wear cowboy boots in Florida, make a website about gluten free food, or publish a poetry book, you put yourself out there. And when you put yourself out there, people will have an opinion. This can interfere with defining your authentic self, or really help you find your inner core being if you confidently know what those opinions mean to you.

Being a healthy workaholic is about being self-aware.

It’s a hard, never ending process because your identity is constantly evolving, but the payoff is a happier, more creative self.

I became a total blonde way back when, though it didn’t work for me. Haaa… I’m Italian! I know now when I look back on these photos that I was exploring and experimenting. I wasn’t—as Elizabeth Gilbert says—doing an autopsy on that small disaster, but it’s ok to look back at what was learned. Sometimes an experiment works and sometimes it doesn’t.

A sweet, non-judgmental voice that says, “I saw a photo of you with dark hair and I think that looks best,” is straight-up kindness. It was a little thing, but I listened and it made me think. I see bravery in that moment and am grateful. How gracious that person was to tell me, because most people wouldn’t, and didn’t.

I found the only journal I ever made recently from when I was 16 years old. I read through it and see that throughout all my experimentation, I’m pretty much the same girl, same essence, same core self. I like me—just as I am—though, I listen to my protectors too. They might tell me to slow down, or keep at it. Good idea, bad idea, too much, not enough… I pay attention. But also listen to my heart.

Your protectors are there bright and beaming when you dye your hair, or make a book come to life.

They’ll be honest with you.

I have a mind of my own, and yes, I might as well jump I often tell myself. I humbly do, then do not take it for granted when I gracefully land. My gratitude to my protectors for their love and support is HUGE. They are grace.

Take your book out of the drawer, or your painting out of the closet, and let the world see it. It’s not to show off, but simply to share your heart a tiny bit. If not now when? There may be someone who needs that pick me up, or burst of the sunshine you bring when they see your creation. If you need additional reassurance and encouragement, read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic! She’s been at this a lot longer than me and I love her wisdom in this book.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I couldn’t be more excited about my most recent experiments, risks, and passion projects. They’re REAL. You can read them and touch them. They’re a hug to all the people I know—and don’t know—who need that extra encouragement to GO FOR IT.

When we stay in tunnel vision mode for too long, we pass by the finer points of life like friends, family, children, and even incredible starry nights.

A healthy workaholic needs proper perspective. Hard work should be balanced with nature, good books, wellness, and loving souls that warm your heart at the same time. Grateful prayers each morning at first light, all day, and as you fall asleep. You can’t work well on an empty fuel tank, and that includes your body and soul. 

Yes… I believe in working hard with passion and purpose, but take the time to regenerate and renew the best you can. Look up, it’s free! See the birds and the stars. You’ll miss the rainbow if you don’t peek out after it rains.

About Jet Widick

Jet Widick is the founder of Gluten Free Sage, a weekly publication that promotes healthy food, healthful lifestyle, mindfulness and minimalism. She believes that each of us longs for artful experiences and that we need to be well and inspired to help us become the best, most beautiful versions of ourselves that we can be.