Means to an end?

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With the Christmas holiday passed and New Years coming up, I wanted to take a bit of time and reflect on balancing priorities.

It's been a crazy ride this year--leaving my prior job after nearly 12 years, jumping headfirst into an exciting position with startup Tracky, and the jostling of that enigmatic thing called "stability". Stability is a double-edged sword--too much or too little and you miss the world (and opportunities) around you.

Work is great, I love work and, honestly, have no idea what I'd do without working. If I ever hit the lotto, I'd probably go to work even after collecting the cheque. It's my nature.

I also believe in the idea of work-life balance and the holidays really helps recenter on what's important in life.

As much as I love work, work isn't what's important. Family, friends, relationships, self improvement, whatever you enjoy--that's what's important.

I worked with a fellow that, as he neared retirement age, his mantra stuck with me. In the later years, no one has ever sat on the proverbial front porch and said, "Damn, I wish I worked more." People regret not spending enough time on the aforementioned important things, but never work. Why does it take us until our twilight years to realize this'

It struck me this year--I was shocked to realize how many people were angry/frustrated/depressed by the holidays. I kept hearing on the social networks "why aren't we working?", "why are we wasting time?", "this is stupid, we should be making money!". Taking all of the religious discussions aside and focusing on the why--because it's important to disconnect and spend time on what's actually important. That's not work.

I'm gathering some of this is 'startup' culture and the drive for always being 'on' and tackling the next big break; however, it's a rough comparison to get used to these past few months. Remember the stable from earlier' 12 years at job with 4 weeks paid vacation, 4 weeks paid personal time, and 22 mandatory holidays per year makes the guilting of a couple days off with family seem a bit intense.

I constantly hear: "oh, we're young--we have plenty of time for family later." Maybe it's the sentimental side of me coming out a bit, but I think that's a horrid way to view priorities in life. What's happened recently in the news should be proof enough that age has no bearing on whether or not tomorrow comes. Especially as my family ages, I'd hate to ever think that I skipped spending what limited time I have with them over something as trivial as coding or a meeting.

A few, when I questioned privately, were quite offended that I even considered myself a "dedicated worker" if I felt there was enough time to take off for the holidays. While our discussions ended in an agreement to disagree, I'll remain at my point that being available (and mostly willing) to work 8-16 hours a day and 6 days a week is enough dedication for the means in my life. I also think it's because my hobbies, friends, and social circles do not align with my work. It's far easier for me to disconnect than folks who are embedded 24/7/365.

So, as you're nearing the new years and thinking of resolutions you're going to blow off in 2013, consider sticking to one and NOT working more. Spend more time with family, visit friends, go out, enjoy life. Schedule it if you absolutely have to--work is a means to the end, NOT the other way around.

2013: Live more life, don't live work. :)

  • career
  • work life balance
author photo - David Longnecker by David Longnecker

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