The Balancing Act That is Work and Life

Do you live to work or do you work to live?

This question is one that I attempt to be mindful of every day. I certainly place more value in living a good life than I do on working it away, but in our American culture of constant busyness and “all work, no play” mentality – it can be hard to live in the moment some days. .

I often feel like society places value on careers and work above all else. People are considered lazy if they want to work anything less than 40+ hours a week, parents frowned upon for wanting more time at home with their children (or staying home with them all together), and an overall mentality that to be successful you need to put in an obscene amount of hours in and make sacrifices. Why is this the norm? It’s no wonder so many individuals struggle with mental health on a daily basis.

I enjoy working!

I have always been someone who enjoys working. It’s rewarding to work hard for the things that I want and I’d be incredibly restless without a job. I worked double shifts on summers and weekends in high school. I consistently had 2-3 jobs after graduation until I was 26. I did it to get by, and while I wished I could work less to do so, I never minded working.

Still, while I truly enjoy having work to do, I don’t see the value in working only to have a pile of money that you do nothing with. I don’t see the value in leaving PTO untouched and never taking a vacation or time away for yourself. I don’t see the value in working only to eat, sleep, and do it all over again.

There are so many things that are more worthwhile to me, even if I’m working a job that I enjoy. You can be productive at work, but still take your off hours time to do things that fill your cup.

There is so much more to life to do and experience. The way I see it, you’ll never be on your deathbed wishing you had worked more.

you’ll never be on your deathbed wishing you had worked more.

You’ll wish for more time with your loved ones. You’ll wish you experienced more. You’ll wish you had more time for all of the other things you wanted to do in your life.

Even something that sounds so simple as true quality time with your loved ones can feel difficult to fit in.

Why can’t we have it both ways?

Can you be a work-a-holic and still maintain a work-life balance? I think it’s certainly possible, even though I will admit that I struggle with it myself. It never feels like you have enough time when the standard 9-5 type of schedule seems to remove such a major chunk of your days. Particularly when these prime chunks of time could be spent doing things that we enjoy. Using the time you do have wisely is key to make more room in your days for both.

When you’re done for the day, be done for the day. Don’t be scrolling with your emails or chats during time with your family. If you know there is a day you will be busier and may have to work longer, give yourself small goals to complete so you have a stopping point. Plan time for those hobbies or passion projects into your week instead of putting them on the back burner. Be present in your lives and with your family. Make sure you get time to yourself to unwind.

Life is About Balance

Life is all about balance, which at times can feel hard to find, but once you make priorities based on what’s important to you – it can be done. It just might require plenty of trial and error to get there. I’m currently trying to iron out a routine to make time for all the things I’d like to do once I clock out for the day! It has proven to be a difficult task that I still haven’t mastered, but I keep trying new ways to make everything work.

I personally never wanted a job to define me. I would love to work less hours in a day and have more time off like other places in the world seem to. It’s hard knowing there is so much out there to see and do, but you’d have to discover a way to break free from the “norm” to fit it all in. It’s a bummer that time put in seems to equate to the quality of our work in this society, when I feel like it’s much the opposite. When people are able to enjoy their lives with less stress outside of work, they’ll come in with a more positive outlook and motivation to start the day. A happy balance!

I will always show up and work hard, but I refuse to sacrifice my identity. Jobs will replace you, but you can’t replace unforgettable life experiences or time with people you love. Time is always ticking and you can’t get it back.

Do something for you today.

Do you struggle with working full time and accomplishing other things in your life? Do you find that your days are structured around work and that other activities you enjoy take the back seat?

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