I'm not going to say "OMG! WoW stole my life!" It didn't.
But it did steal the rest of my hobbies.
In WoW, we just felt like we had to keep up. Keep up with people who didn't have jobs or school or any other interests. Keep up with collecting, keep up with raiding, keep up with PVP gear, keep up.
Husband looked at me after we canceled our accounts and said, "I used to read."
I don't regret the amount of time we spent in WoW, simply because that's how we hung out with my brother and his wife, but even though I'm wincing at missing the holidays and Onyxian Whelpling . . . I'm having fun getting back into the things I used to do.
I used to LOVE finding movies on TV after dinner. That was replaced by raids.
I used to love working on the couch with a cat beside me. That was replaced by grinding out pets.
We used to have fun reading together. That was replaced with leveling alts.
I used to write stories. Replaced by writing forum discussions and blog posts.
Husband used to keep up-to-the-minute on programming news. Replaced by up-to-the-minute class changes.
Hell, I used to do chores. I'm finally helping more around the house again -- though part of that is spurred by how stinky kitten is in the litterbox (it has to be scooped regularly or we'll start to gag).
I think husband and I both agree that we don't need to play WoW again if we're just going to try to keep up. We'll start back in January if we can incorporate it into the lives we're rebuilding, but not if it will start pushing things back out again. Husband put it best when he said it wasn't even his in-game time that was the problem, it was the amount of reading and research he did outside the game.
I always hated how many nights a week he "needed" to raid or arena to keep everyone else happy. Raiding for the officers and hardcores, arenas to keep his characters in good gear. Add a night or two for family time, a day for alt leveling, and that's the whole week right there.
WoW became our only hobby. And while that's not in itself unhealthy, there are things you realize you miss if you take the time to think back.
What was life like for you before WoW? If there are parts of it that you miss, you really do miss, then I suggest taking a step back and reevaluating how much time you spend in game, how much time you spend out of game, and how much time you actually need to spend to be happy -- not to make the antsy hardcores in your guild happy, but to make you happy. Forget about people with different goals than you. They might be important as friends, but they don't have the right to dictate your play schedule just so you don't get whined at.
So while this post is about becoming more casual, does casual automatically mean becoming a bad player? No. My sister-in-law considers herself casual, but she and my brother have duo-healed most of our guild's raids in Wrath. Husband's best friend (who is plenty hardcore) described them best: "You don't play much, but when you do you have your game face on."
Even when I was worrying that the new dps players in our guild thought I was a flake because I messed up on occasion, husband's best friend said "You may not put out the best dps, but you do your job." He added that he prefers someone who does what they're told to someone who pimps out their gear but can't get on the snobolds.
Your gear and mounts and pets may reflect the time you put into the game, but being a good player is more than gear, mounts, and pets. You can manage on a schedule, you just need to figure out (yes, I'm going to say it) your priorities.
Husband and I didn't remember all we'd given up until we canceled our accounts. Then things started to come back to us, things we enjoyed and missed. Maybe you don't need that big a jumpstart, maybe you don't need a mini-life-crisis like we had to make you stop cold and put things back in order.
Just try and remember what you love and work to make those things part of your schedule again. Because if you don't, the adage may come true -- you may wake up and find that WoW has stolen your life.