Confessions of a Workaholic

What work-life balance means to a workaholic?

Edmond Lau
3 min readApr 16, 2022


Muskoka Cottage
Muskoka Cottage, by Edmond Lau

I took that photo when I rented a cottage and the view after a decent workday remotely last year in 2021. It took a short two decades to realize that being a workaholic is not necessarily the best thing.

One thing to make clear, being a workaholic myself over the years and writing this post does not mean that I encourage having a modern-day hustle culture in your company. IMO the modern-day version of hustle culture is toxic.

At different times in my professional life, I push my limits and work extra hours to get more things done. There was a period when I was working as a full-time technical lead on two platform projects concurrently. My timesheet was about 92-100 hours/week for 5–6 weeks. And as the CTO at one of the startups, I worked about 80+ hours a week for two years on average. It was all for reasons related to various professional advancements, self-fulfillment, or protecting my team's health reasons. And sometimes, when I did overtime, is because my team didn’t have to.

As an immigrant in Canada, one has to work twice as hard to get half as far. And sometimes, one can work ten times as hard and still hit a bamboo ceiling.

Work and professional life are essentially a marathon, not a sprint. Work-life balance means that we should pace ourselves. Not everyone should run at the fastest speed all the time, or we are burnout fast. Work-life balance means that it is okay to spend time doing self-care; it means that it is okay to spend time resting; it means that it is okay to read a book or try out new hobbies and skills; it also means that it is okay to procrastinate once in a while.

We all want to focus on doing high-impact work and continue to achieve goals and excellence. It does not mean forcing workaholics to only follow work during regular 9–5. It means that if one chooses to work on something productive, it is a choice one can make. It means that it is okay to work on other initiatives that may be fulfilling.

It is hard to slow down a natural workaholic from doing things, but it does not mean that we cannot procrastinate when we should; it does not mean that we cannot continue to work on side projects or pick up new hobbies. We need to find a way to channel energy outside typical ~40 work hours on something that benefits oneself.

Finding the appropriate level of work-life balance is the key. While there are not many days we would slow down, we just need to remember that we can spend the extra time learning and perfecting our crafts.

If you are a product or software engineering leader and have experienced challenges for you to become an effective leader, I can help! I am a fractional CTO, startup advisor, and coach at Mossa Labs. Reach out to me for an online discovery meeting! I provide leadership coaching and rubber ducking to senior leaders.



Edmond Lau

CTO, Advisor, Mentor, Architect, Product Management