Something that has been bugging me lately is the idea of “work”. And what “work” looks like for the average American. Why are we all just living to work? I’m talking about the 9 to 5 grind. The crazy overtime. The two weeks off per year if you’re lucky. What kind of life is that? Now, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad or single anyone out in this post. I was someone who was living to work, paycheck to paycheck like so many people are doing today. I worked a typical 8 to 5 job and and 5pm tp 10pm job at the same time. I never saw my husband and I still lived paycheck t paycheck. I was afraid to ask for days off and never wanted to burn my precious PTO. In 2019, I made a life change and went for it. I started an online business, replaced my income, and quite my jobs. Now that I’ve experienced what life can look like, I wonder why more people don’t do it. But soooo many people still just put their 40 (or more) hours in, take their 2 vacations a year and do that for 30 or 40 years to what? Retire and get 10 years of enjoyment at the end of your life? That wasn’t something that I was going to do. I was just kind of mulling over why a large part of our society does this though, so here are my thoughts:
By the way, the people that I was speaking about above who do their 40 hours and take their vacations whatnot-if that works for you- don’t stop! Personally, it wasn’t for me and I know some others may feel the way I did.
One of the biggest reasons I think we are finding ourselves just living to work is because of society. Simply put, society just puts these crazy values and expectations on productivity and success at work, often at the expense of other areas of life such as leisure, hobbies, and personal relationships. It’s not just in the movies that you hear about people’s jobs getting in the way of important things like being a spouse, parent, friend, etc. That’s really sad! How do we change it? On a societal level, I am not sure that I have the answers friends. On a personal level, I truly believe the only way to get outta that cycle is work for yourself. Start a business in something that you love and just GO for it. You’ll never get rich on someone else’s money and you sure won’t get the time you deserve.
Another reason, and it isn’t all that deep people- you need money. The economic pressures of daily life are inevitable and you obviously need to provide yourself and your family with the best life. Rising living costs, increasing job insecurity…these things make it difficult for many people to prioritize anything other than work. I mean, look at these recent tech layoffs. These are so many people my age, millennials who are supposed to guide our race into the future and they’re being laid off by the tens-of-thousands! It is insane to think about. Again, I am not a CEO of a Silicon Valley company so I don’t have all of the answers, I am just thinking about why so many people live like this.
Does competition play a factor? Do writers and artists feel the pressure of AI creeping in on their jobs like assembly line workers felt machines come for their jobs 50 years ago? I think about that as well. There are definitely people out there who want to protect their job at all costs and will bust their ass to make sure their superiors know that they are irreplaceable. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work, everyone is replaceable.
I t seems like maybe there are more fulfilling ways to live. There is so much more to life, and there are potential consequences of living to only work, including burnout, stress, lack of fulfillment and most importantly- lost time with loved ones. For me personally, there isn’t a thing in my life that is better than the time I get to spend with my family. My husband and I are home every day, and our schedules allow us to both be fully present for each other, our daughter and our goofy dogs!
The benefits of working for yourself, or at least balancing work with other areas of your life, are immense. You get improved mental health, stronger personal relations, and greater overall self-satisfaction and well-being.
If you’re someone who is out there and you feel like you have just spent years working for someone else without any true fulfillment, or maybe you are someone who feels you are just a slave to your job while your kids are growing up in front of someone else…then maybe it’s time to dig a little deeper. Go out there and take the chance. What’s the worst that can happen? You’re in the same position you are today? People like me are out there doing it every day and there’s nothing that is different about us. We put our shoes on one at a time like everybody else does…we just took the chance. Don’t live to work. Work to have enough to live, and have fun, have time, and enjoy your life.
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