First off, let me start out by saying that I’m not here to tell anyone how they should live their lives. Trust me, I’m one of the last people on this spinning space rock who should be giving advice on what’s right, what’s wrong and/or how people should make their social, career or familial decisions.
However, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about work-life and careers – specifically about those individuals who spend 60+ hours a week at their job or at the office. In doing so, my mind inevitably has to ask: Why? Is it worth it? What exactly do they get out of it?
Years ago I met a guy who was a store manager at a big retail chain. This mid-to-late 20-something year old consistently put in 60-hours a week and at one point actually bragged about working seventeen days straight. (And no, he didn’t get paid overtime. He was salaried.)
More recently, I’ve been noticing that my Outlook in-box is filled with more emails sent after 10:00 p.m. than sent between 9-and-5.Why? Are employers actually expecting that kind of “dedication” from their employees? Are the employees, themselves, so career-driven that they would take on so much extra work, forgo friends and family, all in pursuit of a promotion, a bigger paycheck and, ultimately, more work?
Now, I completely understand that some people need to work a lot of hours to make ends meet. At the same time, I get that there are deadlines that have to be met and the occasional late night is expected. And I certainly won’t tell anyone that they shouldn’t go that extra mile to prove their worth. There are legitimate reasons for working longer hours.
But at what cost?
I know for a fact that the former mid-to-late 20-something (now in his late 30’s) is making a lot more money than I, drives a hell of a lot nicer car than I do, lives in a bigger house and continues to have a managerial-level position (although not in retail.)
He’s also on his second marriage and at last check, he was in debt up to his ears. His career took priority over family as he spent a greater part of a decade climbing the corporate ladder.
As I mentioned, there are exceptions and I love the idea that if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life. But how often is that really the case?
I’m all for being loyal to an employer; putting in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, blah, blah, blah. Of course I’d like to earn more money, have more “things” and save more for retirement but not at the cost of missing my kids grow up. Or having a strained marriage. Or being unable to go out with friends, have fun and live life.
I remember years ago first hearing the phrase: “No one on their death bed wishes they had worked more” and I really took that to heart.
So find a balance. Step back and think about what’s truly important. Otherwise when you look back and ask yourself if it was all worth it – more than likely your answer will be NO.