Are You Obsessively Passionate About Your Work? If So, You Risk Burnout, Expert says
Posted Oct 4, 2011 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
There are two kinds of passion associated with work, and only one of them is beneficial.
There is obsessive passion, in which people are “inflexibly, excessively and compulsively committed, finding it difficult to disengage,” according to cognitive scientist and personality psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman. These people risk burnout, he writes at the HBR Blog Network.
And there is harmonious passion, in which people feel in control of their work, feel good about themselves while working, and find their work is harmonious with other activities. This kind of passion is associated with flow, the mental state of being completely immersed in a task.
The Careerist notes Kaufman’s test for those who are obsessively passionate about their work. The obsessively passionate would likely answer no to these questions:
• Do you have enough energy?
• Do you define yourself by criteria other than work?
• Do you have a positive self image?
• Do you have a positive interior monologue when you work?
• Are you able to stop working when you want to?
• Do you get into a state of flow while working?
Kaufman advises obsessively passionate people to schedule breaks with friends and family, to leave their work at the office, to change their thought patterns when they work, and to take up a new hobby.
“Often, investing too much self in one project is an indication of a negative core self,” Kaufman writes. “The more additional things outside of work contribute to a positive sense of self, the less space your work performance will take up in your ego, and the smaller your chances of burnout.”