OCD: 3 Ways 'Obsessive Career Disorder' Negatively Affects Your Life

by Mary Rebecca Harakas
Paramount Pictures

I'm a driven, disciplined and professional woman. This self-motivation began in high school; freshman year was too easy, and I always wanted a challenge.

I took on AP classes and extra curricular activities. Those are the things that get you into a good school, and the good school gets you to a great career.

After years of ambition in overdrive, why would I stop? No one wants to be in his or her first job forever, and we all want to grow, excel and make something of ourselves.

Those with drive constantly want more, yet no amount is good enough. Just when we think we have what we want, we see the successes of others and want that in addition to our own. This all culminates into the new OCD: obsessive career disorder.

What exactly is the obsessive career disorder? It's losing ourselves, losing our work-life balance and losing sight that there's more to life than work.

No one wants to admit to having OCD. Anything with "obsessive" in the name is never appealing. But the consequences of having symptoms of OCD are more detrimental than we realize.

I encourage you to avoid OCD by excepting the fact work will always be there, but precious elements, like family, friends and our health, are not. The sooner we realize this, the happier lives we can live.

Take into consideration how OCD affects your life:

1. Your health

More hours at the office or any connection to work-related matters means less time at the gym, less time to prep healthy meals and less time to sleep. The trifecta for a great body is comprised of a healthy diet, exercise and plenty of sleep.

If one falls off the wagon, then your efforts are defeated. With OCD, we are constantly checking our work email accounts, and we feel the need to respond immediately, as if our lives revolve only around work.

Working through lunch (not to mention adding hours of work during the weekday evenings and weekends) takes away from personal time needed to recharge and rejuvenate our minds.

Without a free moment, we are worn down from exhaustion, which leads to unhealthy eating choices, zero energy for the gym and sleeping through our alarms. We're continually rushed in the mornings and experience roller coaster days.

Detach from the work phone, shut down your laptop at a decent hour, pencil in workouts and plan ahead for healthy meals. You're working less, but you're working smarter because you'll have more energy for the thing that affects how you function every day: your health.

2. Your friendships

Obsessively working takes away from special time with friends. Often, the excuse of "I'm so busy" is a ploy for a) I don't want or don't feel like hanging out, but just don't want to admit it, or b) I'm too busy for you and our friendship.

First off, everyone is busy. We all have careers, families, bills, hobbies, dreams and travel plans.

And guess what? Life only gets busier. True, there are times during the year that are busier than others — like holidays, tax season or a big brand launch — but to constantly claim you're too busy for friends is not acceptable.

You make time to get ready in the morning? You make time to grab coffee before work? You make time to grab a drink at happy hour?

Then yes, you do make time for things you care about: your appearance, your coffee addiction and your after-work social hour. Then great, you can make time for those you care about, too.

Work will always be there. It's how the world functions. And friends will be there, but only to an extent. After several "I'm so busy" or "Raincheck next week?" texts, your friends will dwindle to the point where all you really do have is work.

3. Your family

Many of us are guilty of taking our families for granted. We always assume they'll be there to help us, guide us and strengthen us when we need a lift, and they'll bring us down to earth when we need some grounding.

Your family is one of the most valuable relationships you can have, but when we are obsessed with overworking ourselves, our families take the brunt of it. How so?

Our family members are essential to our core beings, the people we naturally are. We take on different personas when we are with certain people. The office brings out our work selves, a first date brings out our flirtatious selves, college brings out our studious (and drunken) selves, but our families bring out our core selves. They keep us level-headed, connected to our traditions.

But an obsessive work life can encroach on family time, leaving you stressed at holidays and unable to enjoy your family. You miss your little cousin's first birthday, and in the end, you're left wondering where the time went.

Take time each day to connect with your family, whether it's a phone call on the drive home, a weekend getaway to the beach with your cousins or simply sending a card as a way to say, "I'm thinking of you." It keeps the most important connection alive.

Obsession with anything is detrimental, but career obsessions that infiltrate our health, friendships and family can leave someone devastated and unsatisfied with life. And this all leads to poor work ethic, time management and a downward spiral of issues.

Chill and relax. I can't reiterate enough that work will always be there.

And yes, you will make it up the ladder, as we all have to start somewhere. But enjoy the ride, and focus on the work-life balance.

No happy person is truly in work mode 24/7. We all have breaking points when we become too invested in anything.

So, focus on the things that won't always be there: your health, your friendships and your family. I promise your career will find its balance, too.