A lazy workaholic works a lot, but without thinking. They're in constant reactive mode, instead of proactively charting the course for their day. They let years fly by, responding to anyone and everyone shouting "jump." They focus only on what someone else expects of them. They don't bother to expend the energy needed to stop and think strategically about their own future. They fail to consider whether what they're working on is worthwhile or will help them reach their goals. They just keep working. They figure if they feel busy, they must be making progress.

Lazy workaholics are everywhere and at every level. They're the people complaining the loudest about being SO BUSY. They are conditioned to work without questioning why. They're rewarded with promotions and raises because they're responsive and had the right answer -- like it's school -- more often than not. They clearly articulate what they are doing without taking any time to consider whether they should be doing it.

I know, because I am one.

I spent more than 15 years working my way up to senior management doing what other people told me to do. I then unknowingly put myself in my very own 12-step recovery program when I left this comfortable corporate job and began working as an independent consultant. The very first day, I sat at Panera with my brand-new computer and phone and said to myself, "what am I supposed to do now?" I was temporarily frozen. No boss, no peers, no staff, and no clients were there to tell me what to do. I had only one email in my new Gmail inbox, and it was a welcome message from Google...and I briefly considered responding.

It took more than a couple of weeks to get comfortable with directing myself. I still slip back into my old habits when client requests pile up. I know when it's happening because I spend most of my day focused on responding to emails instead of working on any of the important long-term projects on my "to do" list.

Does this sound familiar?

Are you a lazy workaholic, too?

Here's a quick, non-scientific formula you can use to find out.

  1. First, total the number of hours you worked last week. It's entirely possible that you don't have a clue -- I typically don't. Most of us tend to "round up" and believe we work more than we actually do. Because you don't need prove anything to anyone with these numbers, try to be accurate and take out blocks of downtime or distractions that were not really work related.
  2. Next, take a look at your annual goals, and then glance at your calendar and email from the last week. Look for times that you were working on something important (either for a client or your business) that you had personally made the decision to work on. How many of your total working hours were goal-oriented and self-directed?

For many, the answer to that question is zero so the math is easy.

If less than 1 percent of your working time is self-directed, then you're a lazy workaholic.

Of course, there is no hard and fast rule here, but I'd argue at least 10 percent of your working time each week should be devoted to projects of your choosing. How else will you ever reach your goals? That is, unless your goal is to become the most responsive puppy in the pen, ready to fetch on command.

Please don't say that you're unable to carve out this time within the many hours you're already working. Be honest, and say that you're too lazy to do so. You're more comfortable working your butt off responding to other people's requests -- and that's fine. But come January, just promise not to wonder or complain about why you're no further along with your goals.