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In the last section, we discussed identifying what is important. The purpose of this section was to provide a basis for beginning therapy with a workaholic client and to provide you with a technique for the client Identifying Priorities.
In the next two sections, we will discuss Reducing Non-Productive Motivators. This section will identify some major motivators and provide techniques for reducing money’s influence and reducing the need for work related approval and praise. As you listen to this section, you might consider how the topics apply to your therapeutic setting. Could playing this section for client education be productive?
3 Aspects of Reducing Non-Productive Motivators
#1 Major Motivators
Ben stated, "I used to think that it was my boss who made me work late, but she changed jobs a couple weeks ago. The weird thing is that now, without a supervisor at all, I still work all the time! Even though there’s not much happening at work right now, I didn’t even get home until almost 9 o’clock last night. I thought about leaving work earlier, but it just didn’t seem right! Then I realized that I am the one making me work all those long hours and I don’t even know why." Think of your Ben. Do you have a workaholic client who has trouble understanding his or her own motivation?
If so, perhaps one of these common major motivators may be what is keeping your client from having the balance he or she wants in life. I have found that common major motivators might be money, the need for approval, peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, competition, and the desire for power and control. Would you find it productive to work with your workaholic client to discover his major motivators?
#2 Reducing Money’s Influence
The first weapon of resistance might be logic. You might consider asking your client, "How much money are you actually going to take home by working longer at this time? What Personal Priority are you giving up to get that money? Is the trade-off worth it? And what is it about that amount of money that is important to you?" I find that the last question, what is it about that amount of money important to you, is key to understanding why money is such a significant motivator to a workaholic client. For example, is the money going for essentials—rent, food, taxes, child care? Or is the money going into longer range savings—an IRA or a down payment on a house?
Some clients justify their quest for money by believing they need the funds to enhance their families’ lifestyle, like buying a fancier car or going on special vacations. If this applies to your client, you might suggest that he or she asks his or her family if they like the choices the client is making. It’s possible that the client’s family would rather see more of the client than go to the Bahamas every winter. And if they do vote for the Bahamas over seeing the client, how happy is the client with that decision?
Other clients chase after money for emotional as well as financial reasons. Ben explained his situation in a later session. Ben stated, "My efforts to make money have been directly connected to my desire to get to a place that no one thought possible for me. Also, there’s a sense of pride wrapped up in there, too. It’s one of those things about getting "legitimacy." My folks never made oodles of money. So I have been quietly ambitious over the years in order to get places they never got to—not to show them up, but to make them proud of me and to convince myself I could do it!"
Think of your Ben. Why is money important to your client? How do these reasons compare against other Personal Priorities as identified in the technique from section 1? Clearly, sometimes having money is relevant to Priorities, but sometimes it isn’t. Would you agree that weighing the relative importance of the money against other Priorities can help clients like Ben get a better grasp on how they want to be spending their time?
#3 Reducing the Need for Work Related Approval and Praise
For example, James began to make a real effort to call close friends who didn’t live nearby. By focusing on the people who mattered to him, James experienced self-approval which could then translate into a better balance between work and personal priorities.
Another way I have found for clients to reduce the need for work related approval and praise is to listen for any compliments related to personal priorities. If this sounds like it might benefit your workaholic client, consider implementing a ‘praise quota.’ Clients can imagine they have a praise quota in each of the priorities identified using the technique from section 1 that they need to fill. If the praise quota isn’t met from external compliments, clients can give themselves compliments internally.
It might be helpful to explain that even if no one rewards or praises them for becoming a balanced person, others will admire it. How might you help your client understand motivation for being a workaholic? How might he reduce the influence of these motivators?
In this section, we discussed Reducing Non-Productive Motivators. This section identified some major motivators and provided techniques for reducing money’s influence and reducing the need for work related approval and praise.
In the next section, we will continue to discuss reducing motivators. Non-productive motivators that we will discuss are dealing with guilt, reducing the influence of competition, and letting go of the urge for power and control.