New studies link self-described workaholics to having personality traits that include narcissism, obsessive behavior and low self-esteem.
Traits at the workplace:
- Won’t decline new responsibilities or workload based on how important he feels.
- Won’t delegate work because he perceives everyone around him as incompetent.
- Worries compulsively about work.
- His self-worth is based on how much work he has.
- Obsesses over every detail to the point of exhaustion and nothing less than perfect will do.
- They are never satisfied.
- Does not have positive work relationships.
- He is not a team player.
- He may hold up projects for fear of letting them go, and relinquishing power and his current level of comfort.
Traits after retirement:
- Depends on excessive consumption of alcohol or prescription medication.
- Has no close friends.
- Watches television constantly and yells at pundits on the screen.
- Interactions with family members are by force, not choice.
- Can be verbally abusive.
- Impatient with others.
- Suffers from depression and anxiety.
- Nothing pleases him and there is no joy or happiness in his life.
Not all workaholics have all these traits all at once, it all depends on what type of workaholic they are. Psychology Today has listed three distinct types:
- The all-or-nothing workaholic
- The relentless workaholic
- The savoring workaholic
For a spouse and children living with a workaholic, life before retirement may be filled with disappointing family vacations and weekends since workaholics bring their work everywhere they go and self-extend work schedules. The family adapts to enabling the behavior by using euphemisms as a “hard worker”, “great provider”, “his company finds him indispensable”, and “he is valued.” In other words, they live separate lives in which the workaholic makes guest appearances, but once retired, the personality traits of the workaholic can be a source of mental anguish for all involved.
Using the word Hobby conjures up visions of enjoyment and pleasure activities that don’t need to be finished on a rigid schedule. For a savoring workaholic who relishes hanging on to projects that will never be finished to his exact standards, the following will keep him busy for years to come.
- Woodworking - Making cabinets, tables, chairs and dressers with ornate carvings and finishes.
- Writing his memoirs.
- Designing building plans for a future home.
For the relentless workaholic whose main traits include working himself to exhaustion with projects that have no end in sight:
- Running, swimming, body building.
- Taking classes in painting.
- Teaching himself to repair electronics - hundreds of tiny screws and many small components.
For the all-or-nothing workaholic who has a hard time getting started but once he does, he won’t stop:
- Paint the house - inside and out.
- Plan and build a vegetable garden.
- Restore an old or classic vehicle.
Notice that hobbies for retired workaholics will keep them busy and engaged with “things”, not people. The other aspect about any hobby is whether there is intense satisfaction and enhances the factor known as quality of life. If the hobbies fail in this regard, please consider professional counseling because retirement can easily expand into decades of misery for all involved.
Type A Personality
Type ‘A’ personalities are not workaholics—they can relax, enjoy family and friends, and will gladly give up working if the financial situation is settled to their satisfaction. Type ‘A’ personalities suffer from boredom. Downtime means doing something that pleases them, not just sitting around doing nothing. They can’t sit in the sun without working on a crossword puzzle, reading a book or interacting with a computer, but they are enjoying themselves and that is the difference between a workaholic and a type ‘A’ personality.
Type ‘A’ personalities can be a lot of fun on vacations and weekends, they like to keep active, they are curious about discoveries and look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas with family members and friends. They can be exhausting to those who would rather lounge in total silence, but they are not difficult to live with while they are working. Upon retirement, they need to have some great hobbies to occupy their time and mind when they are not interacting with other people.
- Write a book.
- Coach sports.
- Kayaking, bicycling or routinely going to the gym.
- Plan and go on short and long vacations to new places.
Type ‘A’ personalities often turn retirement into paid jobs while having fun and changing their lifestyle. Many have sold their homes and live exclusively in their RV year-round while exploring the country and writing about it in their blogs. Type ‘A’ personalities are social and enjoy meeting new people.
- Traveling cross-country in an RV
- Collecting: Stamps, bubble-heads, antiques - basically anything that keeps them busy chasing the items, cataloging them and engaging with others with similar interests.
The basis for hobbies for type ‘A’ personalities and the average garden variety of retirees is to do things they have an affinity for or have always wanted to learn but never had the time for.
Type ‘A’ people don’t mind not finishing a hobby they started if family members want to do something. Vacations are enjoyed fully and normally have no regrets about not being home doing something else. I say ‘normally’ because the enemy of type ‘A’ personalities is being bored. A workaholic has rarely, ever, enjoyed a vacation because his mind is at work and retirement is an endless vacation from which they can’t escape.
Which One Are You?
Workaholics in retirement need things to do just like everyone else, but the most important thing for them to do before retirement is to seek counseling and be evaluated for depression, low self-esteem and understand the root causes of their unhealthy behavior.
Family members may not be aware of how they enable the behavior and they, too, need to seek counseling because retirement for the workaholic could easily become decades of resentment for the immediate family.
Perhaps the most shocking conclusion is that workaholics suffer from the same root problems as alcoholics, over-eaters and drug addicts. They need hobbies to keep them busy, but they need professional help to keep them mentally and emotionally healthy.
Psychology Today: A Field Guide To the Workaholic; Brenda Goodman; May 26, 2011
Psychology Today: The Personality Of the Workaholic And The Issue Of Self; Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D.; March 20, 2010