Work to Live or Live to Work

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Recently there was some backlash against two high-profile women executives: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo. Being very successful women in roles of leadership, they are encouraging all women to push forward and work their butts off to be successful, as they have done.

As someone who has been working since I was 17, and someone who has always taken my work seriously, I get the point of having a strong work ethic. But I also feel very strongly that we should be working to live, not the other way around. And I realize everyone is different. If someone is truly passionate about their craft and loves what they do, go for it. However, I think generally there is too strong of a push to make your career the No. 1 thing in your life, especially in our culture. Will that person who works 12 hour days six days a week come to regret what they missed out on during their life?

The discussions have been primarily focused on women, specifically working mothers, but I would argue this affects everyone. Granted, working mothers have the hardest job in the world (unless they are like Sandberg and Meyer, who are both in a very privileged class and have all the help in the world).

My last post was on the top five regrets of people who were facing death. “Working too much” was a big one, for both men and women. Nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

I’m not advocating chucking it all and becoming a beach bum (unless you can make that work for you in an independent way). I believe in personal responsibility and taking care of one’s self — both men and women. I think our culture is too obsessed with work, which is a direct result of the biggest obsession of all: consumerism. I’m a product of our culture (just ask Amazon), so I’m not standing on some soap box condemning anyone. I’m just at an age and a stage in life where I am reflecting on what I want the rest of my life to be. And that does not include mind-sucking meetings or corporate politics. I think, especially for both men and women with young families, even 40 hours is too much to balance it all. If I ran the world we’d all find something that fulfills us, on a part-time basis, but allows us the ability to watch the sun set at night, attend a child’s sporting event, spend time with our elders and our friends, and just have some quality time to reflect and just be.

What are your thoughts?

12 thoughts on “Work to Live or Live to Work

  1. Hey Sis, you run for president and I will vote for you. You are right, we want too much and think that the one with the biggest and best toys win but it is the person who is truly loved that wins. You have such an amazing talent in writing. I am so proud of you and I know that Daddy would have loved to see your accomplishments. I know that he would burst with pride~!!!

  2. You are so right Sha Sha,,, I feel like I have always been blessed because I have worked with the school district and had the time off with my kids. And I have always managed to go to their sporting events and those were the most favorite things for me. You are very talented in your writings and so right. There is a happy balanced and I am so glad that I had to work. I enjoy my work so much because I am helping the little ones in life, and it is a blessing. You will enjoy retirement and enjoy what you want to do and are meant to do,,, not driving and waiting in traffic and doing the same thing year after year. You are successful and should feel proud… You have done good….

  3. I will vote for you too! But then you’d have the most stressful job in the world, and we don’t want that. Marion is right – you do have a gift with words. I love, love, love reading what you write!

      1. Cousin, I am honored to be mentioned in the same breath with kitties and dogs! Our kitties LOVED your post today and have sworn to turn over a new leaf and start taking it easy around here. You only live nine times.

  4. I’m working on paring down non-essentials of all sorts, doing the Thoreau-inspired “simplify, simplify” dance. Getting rid of stuff and baggage, so I can have more time for the things that matter in my life, including time with family and meaningful work. Thanks for these thought-provoking thoughts.

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