Work Ethic vs Workaholic

A strong work ethic, few would deny, is a trait we should all cultivate. To achieve anything of value, and to be of value to others, we must own a healthy, strong, consistent commitment to do what it takes to accomplish what we set out to.

One could debate what healthy work should look like or feel like..but it’s hard to argue against its inherent value.

At the same time, there’s another approach to work that masquerades as healthy work — and that’s workaholism. The distinction between them can be tricky and insidious — but it’s essential to make as we transition to higher modes of working.

I’ve spent some time reflecting…and have listed many ways to distinguish them in our life.

  • Work ethic is maintained by discipline.
  • Workaholism is propelled by rush.
  • Work ethic is consistent.
  • Workaholism peaks and crashes.
  • Work ethic is founded on love of what we are doing.
  • Workaholism is founded of loathing of what we aren’t doing.
  • Work ethic is sustainable.
  • Workaholism isn’t.
  • Work ethic enhances our relationships.
  • Workaholism sabotages our relationships.
  • Work ethic is purpose-driven.
  • Workaholism is fear-driven.
  • Work ethic’s means align with the end.
  • Workaholism’s means don’t align with the end.
  • Work ethic is immersion in life.
  • Workaholism is escape from life.
  • Work ethic is principled.
  • Workaholism is anything goes.
  • Work ethic is a commitment.
  • Workaholism is an addiction.
  • Work ethic knows when and how to start and stop.
  • Workaholism knows neither.
  • Work ethic sees the full picture.
  • Workaholism gets stuck on a narrow sliver.
  • Work ethic produces lasting fruits.
  • Workaholism produces ephemeral smoke.
  • Work ethic is satisfying each step.
  • Workaholism feels like we aren’t doing enough.

I could go on, but after a point, we can start to feel the distinction within us.

I won’t deny… much of my approach to work over the years has been (and still is) as a workaholic. And that’s where I’ve gone in circles and hit a wall time and time again. I see it more and more clearly. My intentions have been noble, but my approach to work, to a degree, immature.

I’m committing to purge workaholism and replace it with a clear, simple, healthy, and robust work ethic. It requires approaching our work from a completely different lens…but I feel more ready to shift. If you can relate, please do get in touch and share your experiences.

Ranjeeth Thunga
Perspective Mapper