How Realistic Is Working To Live?

Do you live to work or work to live? I swore to myself that I’d never be the kind of person who lives to work. Who thinks about their job all the time. Who misses out on life because they were too busy working.

I struggle with work/life balance and to understand office culture. There are 168 hours in a week. At least 50 are spent working/commuting. At least 50 are spent sleeping. I get home from work every day with 4 hours to eat dinner, go to the gym, do some laundry, and get ready for bed. It makes it hard to stop working for the weekend.

But is it realistic to adapt the working to live mindset? Because I don’t think a lot of employers actually promote that, no matter how much they talk about caring about an employee’s well-being. With the work culture nowadays, it really does feel like the world wants you to eat, sleep, and breathe your job. And if you’re not doing that, then you’re a slacker. Or you don’t care. Or you’ll never be told you’re performing well.

And while I want to perform well, it’s something that’s ingrained into me, I don’t want to be the kind of person that lives to work. I don’t want my sole existence to be my job. We should want our paychecks so we can spend them to make ourselves happy. We shouldn’t just be throwing them into a savings account and working every day until we die.

It’s really hard to find the balance – especially if you work full time or in an office setting. Sometimes I find myself jealous of the teenagers scooping popcorn at our movie theater. That was my high school job and I hated it – but think about how easy it was to finish a shift and just leave everything at the door. No emails to check on your phone, no worries about if you’re going to meet your deadline, no working longer hours because someone is putting pressure on you.

Will the work culture ever change? I feel like I hear these magical fairy tales of places that understand mental health days, that understand a job is not your life. But I’m not sure they actually exist.

44 thoughts on “How Realistic Is Working To Live?

  1. I think you would really like this video by tiffanyferg. It talks about hustle culture and this pressure to work that completely captures Americans.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. When I first started at my job it felt like we were pressured to work all the time. Over the past couple of years I made it clear to them that my priority was my family and I needed flexibility. Luckily they have been great about it. I have always said I would work to live and am not someone who wants to think about work at all when I log off. I don’t understand the fascination with being busy or always working. It’s not for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s great! I feel like a lot of places understand the need for flexibility, but don’t necessarily respect it. Like I’m seen as less hard of a worker for not wanting to spend all my time at work

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes!! My job always talked about work/life balance but I was so busy and I was frustrated when my co-workers could have balance and I couldn’t. We have a meeting once a year with our President and HR where we can talk about our concerns and possible solutions. Last year I expressed how frustrated I was with my workload and they actually hired two more people for my team! I now have a manageable workload where I’m still busy but I can leave work at 5 with everyone else. It feels so good! I’m still crazy busy during year end or tax season but for the most part I can finally enjoy some level of work/life balance.

    It took me almost 3 years to get to this point. I think companies need to start practicing what they preach. If they preach work/life balance then they need to make it achievable for every employee. Work culture is so important!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Also, it’s important that if “making work/life balance achievable” is truly important to an employer, this does not translate to “mandatory training for every employee on how to make work/life balance achievable.”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It is relatively common for some areas to be overwhelmed and others to have an abundance of capacity. Often this is because management doesn’t have a good picture of how work flows. The overwhelmed people are likely also roadblocks preventing work from reaching others.

      It is critically important for management to address these kinds of issues because:
      1. It slows time to delivery or solve for the customer
      2. It makes overwhelmed employees prime for leaving due to burnout

      #2 is especially bad because that means losing their best, most productive people.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to be this person until a few months ago. The moment I leave the office I leave all work related things behind. Life is too short to always be worried about deadlines. My boss once mentioned how I go off the radar on weekends. We have a WhatsApp group I barely take part in. I just need my space I already spend all my productive hours in the office!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I got so very lucky with my career- I managed to land myself a job that is easy (for me) where I work 95% of the time from home, that pays well & is for a wonderful hospital…and I rarely worry about work after clocking out. I sometimes get bored and restless, but then I remind myself how blessed I am. I love the people I work with and respect the entity I work for…I guess it doesn’t get too much better, right? Is it something I am passionate about? Nope. But not everyone gets to make their passion in life their career- it sounds good, but I have to be realistic! I need health insurance and a guaranteed income with kids to raise. In the big picture, I think having a job that meets and exceeds your needs, that removes insecurity from your life, and that might be a little bit boring sometimes is a pretty good deal. I see what most of my friends deal with, and I would take my job any day. 🙂 It allows my free time to be pretty sweet.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I think if I were still in my twenties or even my thirties, I would think differently. But in my mid-forties, I just realize how lucky I am to have so much stability- especially in California where the cost of living is astronomical. And then I pursue my passions on my own time- writing, especially. I would love to do only that all day, every day, of course. Maybe when I’m famous, I will ( 🙂 ) In the meantime, I get to travel and eat out and go shopping and buy regrettable things on Amazon. So it’s not so bad.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. As a recent retiree after 30 years at the same medical institution, I can tell you this was a lifelong struggle for me. I had a strong work ethic from being raised on a farm and I took that with me into the workplace. I also thoroughly enjoyed being a wife and a parent. I’ve learned a lot of valuable things in hindsight since walking out my employer’s door on the very last day–they DO NOT care how much time, effort, and sacrifice you make on their behalf (my sacrifice was my health in my pursuit of being the perfect overachieving employee). It’s forgotten the second you walk away and another warm body takes your place. My advice to my daughter regarding this very subject was to give her employer 150% while she’s on the clock and ONLY when she’s on the clock. When quitting time comes–live life in the way it brings her joy (travel, adventure, creativity). Do not waste one single second worrying and stressing about work, although loving what we do makes that much easier. In the end, work and career is not what is important and doesn’t define who we are as human beings. It’s only a tool to allow us to live our lives in the most rewarding way possible. If I could go back in time, I definitely would have viewed my work/home life in a much healthier and happier manner. I hope you find the balance which is right and correct for you. Our days and heartbeats are numbered–it’s so very important to find joy in every one of them.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice! It’s really nice to hear from someone who put in the work and then realized it’s not worth giving up your life for a job. I recently read a quote that said “If you died tonight, your employer would have a job advert out by the end of the month to fill your job. But your friends and family would miss you forever.” I think that really resonates with what you said here!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It is realistic to work to live. Europeans do it all the time. I would say even Jamaicans back home do the same. I’ve also done so. This year, I went back to working more hours for a simple reason though: buying a house next year.

    The basic foundation of working to live is needing less to live. If people are still spending a lot of money on expensive cars, big houses and lots of clothes or eating out, they will find it very difficult to work to live because living becomes so expensive.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It’s hard to find that balance. And it sounds like working in an office setting makes it a lot harder. I think it’s possible for some, it just depends on the job you get. Thankfully, working at a library, I never take work home with me. When my shift is over, I am done until the next day. I also have a job where I make slime and bath bombs with kids during the day so it’s never too intense and I don’t have to worry about deadlines.

    I think it’s so important to set boundaries with work. I say this to my fiance all the time. Don’t make it a habit to check emails after work hours. I know it’s hard when you have the mindset where you want to look like a team player but you also have to think about yourself. If you’re giving them 8 hours of your time, 5 days a week, that should be enough.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah yes it’s any job I think that has a lot of email communication makes it hard. There are so many times when I check it after work hours and then kick myself because I have anxiety all night over something I can’t fix. It should be enough but it doesn’t ever feel like it is unfortunately

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is so interesting… aware I’m slightly workaholic I think I fall in the ‘live to work’ category but also prefer it that way! When I hear ‘work to live’ I think that makes a job sound chore-like and forced. Perhaps I’m bias because I adore my job and I’m genuinely happy to take it with me wherever I go. My favourite philosophy I would add to the topic is ‘find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’. ________________________________

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I live to work. I feel fortunate because work is an additional thing that I could survive without, but would much rather have as supplementary income. Knowing that I don’t need to hustle just to make a paycheck allows me to do my best at work. My husband says that I don’t need to work, but it’s nice if I do. Quality of live is overall better when we have 2 incomes instead of one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry I think I screwed that up. I work to live** it’s like eat to live? That doesn’t sound right. Live to eat? Maybe it’s live to eat, but I thought eat to live was the healthier one? 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s a tough balance to find, especially in some careers, but it’s important. I feel like I can’t really assess my own work/life balance right now, because with COVID my work is so different and so much of my life outside of work is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. AM I working my life away? A question I ask myself daily, but the alternative is poverty and uncertainty, I know I can’t live with. So until I retire in a few years, I’m trying to work to live

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Such a fine balance between working to make yourself comfortable and enjoying that comfort. I think the key is to try and find a job that you love or at least enjoy doing. Makes all the difference. Plus learning how to completely switch off from work the moment you leave.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey, Rosie. I hate the fact that mankind could’ve went in any direction at the beginning of time and they decided this would be the reality to live. Being worked to the bone for 50 years, retire, and not have the energy to enjoy it.

    For those of us that see this flawed system though, I think we have an opportunity to create an rift and emancipate ourselves through means of financial freedom. It’s time to think outside the box for income and put our time back in our hands and not that of a corporation… Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I work to live and think it’s realistic if your goals are not materialistic. I have a set quota to pay my bills. Once I hit that, I stop taking on client work. This year, my goal has been to take on more higher-paying clients and projects so I can hit that quota even faster and work much fewer hours.

    That said, keep in mind I don’t live in a sticks and bricks and my expenses are lower than most Americans’. I also work for myself and decide my own hours. I work about 30 hours for clients every week, which includes emails, phone calls etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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