More often than not, there is a question which is asked. It may be an old expression, but do we work to live or live to work?
There is no argument that your career can be extraordinary if you will it to be so. It can sure widen the horizons of your success, reward and fulfil you. But is that all there is to living? “Do we work to live or live to work” is a great quote by Max Weber, a sociologist.
He asked such a question because at some point in his life, he came to the realization that the traditional life pattern associated with education and work, even retirement, no longer fits into the complexly, fast-changing world.
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job, you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” ― Ellen Goodman
As there are myriads of inventions of new lifestyles, work approaches and living ideas, new definitions of successes are being forged. Not so long-ago people worked to afford the basic necessities, made enough money to cover expenses and still had time to attend to other aspects of their personal lives. Traditional work meant you spend a certain number of hours in your workplace, do what you need to do and go home to live out the rest of your day and life.
But nowadays, with an average of 10-14 hours of daily work hours, continuous 24-hour access to anyone at any time, nobody seems to have the time for anything. A few decades back, our predecessors took up jobs in order to be able to cater for themselves and for their families, by providing the basic necessities. But, sadly, as a result of the advent of many complexities such as technology (including cell phones, social media, tech games) we have strayed far from simplicity and “normalcy” and adapted a rather hectic, mind numbing lifestyle.
In one way or the other, the true meaning of purposeful values are watered down or in contradiction to our own personal values and beliefs. Everybody simply wants to join the bandwagon and get hooked with latest tech toys and games; and/or are hooked on status. Is that really for our own good? Our self-worth gradually became associated with what we do and what we have.
Rather unfortunately, a lot of people have come to lack the “self-knowledge “and “unrealistic expectations” necessary to address the vital issues which are so critical to making sound career choices that will lead to ultimate future happiness.
Some people may say that there is no right or wrong answer to Max Weber's epic question. But the truth is living to work is far less of a factuality than working to live. Those who live to work do so for many reasons, most of them are complex. It may not be all about the money, but a result of continued strive for more and better toys, loosing of self, just plain need to “succeed”.
Life has more meaning if outer success balances within inner success. Succeeding inside yourself means discovering and expressing our “core”. The quality of our lives and the quality of our work time become one and the same.
As people seek more balance, the tough question becomes “What do I want?” “What is balance for me?”
Don’t forget, balance is the need to take charge of our time, attitudes, and choices between the “outer success” of career and work and the “inner successes” of relationships and personal growth.
It is critical to know where you belong and do some fixing should the need be. Give yourself the avenue to make expectations that are realistic, about yourself of course. Choose career paths and employers accordingly.