There is more to life than to increase its speed.
— Mahatma Gandhi
So now, gentle readers, we are going to zero in on one of our most pervasive, insidious blocks. Julia gives it a full four pages or so. Deep breath.
We’re going to take a closer look at workaholism and our addiction to busy-ness. This seems rather timely for the holiday season, when there is tremendous pressure to overbook ourselves. It might not be in the name of work, per se, but in the name of obligation and even celebration. The effect is the same.
Like all addictions, it blocks creative energy. In fact, Julia wisely notes, “It could be argued that the desire to block the fierce flow of creative energy is an underlying reason for addiction.
“If people are too busy to write morning pages, or too busy to take an artist date, they are probably too busy to hear the voice of authentic creative urges. To return to the concept of a radio set, the workaholic jams the signals with self-induced static.”
I believe the problem of workaholism is far worse than it was when Julia first wrote her book. Nowadays, many workplaces expect it. Today’s economic reality means that if you still have a job, there’s a good chance you are now doing your work, plus the job of other people who have been laid off. In addition, there is the new problem that the lines between work and downtime have become blurred, even non-existent.
More and more of us are logged on and available 24/7. We are expected to show up for virtual meetings with people in far away time zones; we answer work emails on the weekends; we’re stay plugged in during the commute; we answer our work cell on vacation. In fact, more and more of us find we are always in work mode, constantly available to our customers or employers, and are never really off the job anymore.
Besides job cuts or the occasional crunch time for special needs, we have a certain responsibility in this. As Julia notes, “The phrase, ‘I’m working’ has a certain unassailable air of goodness and duty to it. The truth is, we are very often working to avoid ourselves, our spouses, our real feelings.
“In creative recovery, it is far easier to get people to do the extra work of the morning pages than it is to get them to do the assigned play of an artist date. Play can make a workaholic very nervous. Fun is scary….
“For most blocked creatives, fun is something they avoid almost as assiduously as their creativity. Why? Fun leads to creativity. It leads to rebellion. It leads to feeling our own power, and that is scary. ‘I may have a small problem with overwork,’ we like to tell ourselves, ‘but I am not really workaholic.’”
Let’s find out. This weekend, in your morning pages, answer these questions honestly. We’ll share and discuss next week.
1. I work outside of office hours: seldom/often/never/there are set office hours?
2. I cancel dates with loved ones to do more work: seldom/often/never.
3. I postpone outings until the deadline is over: seldom/often/never.
4. I take work with me on weekends: seldom/often/never.
5. I take work with me on vacations: seldom/often/never.
6. I take vacations: seldom/often/never.
7. My intimates complain I’m always working: seldom/often/never.
8. I try to do two things at once: seldom/often/never.
9. I allow myself free time between projects: seldom/often/never.
10. I allow myself to achieve closure on tasks: seldom/often/never.
11. I procrastinate in finishing up the last loose ends: seldom/often/never.
12. I set out to do one job and start on three more at the same time: seldom/often/never.
13. I work in the evenings during family time: seldom/often/never.
14. I allow calls to interrupt – and lengthen –my work day: seldom/often/never.
15. I prioritize my day to include an hour of creative work: seldom/often/never.
16. I place my creative dreams before my work: seldom/often/never.
17. I fall in with others’ plans and fill my free time with their agendas: seldom/often/never.
18. I allow myself down time to do nothing: seldom/often/never.
19. I use the word deadline to describe and rationalize my work load: seldom/often/never.
20. Going somewhere, even to dinner, carrying work notes, or plugged in to work access is something I do: seldom/often/never.
Meantime, don’t forget – this Sunday we will be lighting the third candle in our Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer-Circle. Details will be posted then, or visit here for the general information. It absolutely does not matter if you haven’t participated in the past two weeks; you can join this magic any time! I truly hope you will!