Work to live or live to work

Live to work

I always assumed that I need to find something in life that enables me to live for my work. In that the there is only one purpose, meaning that opportunity, and potential were maximised and the profession I had chosen (or landed in) both motivates me and is all-encompassing.

The main reasoning around this was logical enough – rather than having a soul crushing job, and struggling through, to merely make ends meet; why don’t I find a career that I dedicate everything to, and in doing so, create a thing I live for, and drives me.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.” Simon Sinek (writer/optimist)

Then as a by-product : I can afford the necessary things to get by (rent food bills etc). So find something to devote everything to, that way, I can both survive and feel fulfilled.

“You Will Never Work A Day Once You Discover A Passion That Makes Your Life Rich & Sweet” (Viola Shipman, The ice cream cone charm)

Any discomfort or stress I felt in the job I was doing, I pushed to one side with a sort of and focus on the imaginary end goal.

“Sometimes we just have to suck it up and do what we have to do, until we are able to do what we want to do.”  (Mark Boyer, author)

Two birds, one stone; right?

But then I started to re-think.


Work to live

Now I look at the words, it makes sense that this is the option I should be leaning towards. Go to your usual 9-5, earn your pennies, take that  trip you’ve always wanted to.

“Many of us feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve everything we need to do, let alone everything we want to do. We lament the cost of childcare and a desire to spend more time with our kids. Hobbies are disappearing. Palliative consumption is increasing. We strive to engineer a fruitful work-life balance but get stymied by work that increasingly bleeds into our private time.” (New Philosopher)

We work more now than we ever have. And I am fairly certain that we aren’t happier because of it.

We used to live in a world where if we didn’t go and hunter/gather we wold suffer because of it. Ie we would go hungry. We mastered the practical arts – crops, building, navigation etc, so we turned to the ‘impractical arts’ writing, philosophy, art, we could afford to labour less. You can see this trend in the modern-day working week – we can afford weekends off, religious holidays, bank holidays etc because we live in a surplus. (This article goes into more depth)

So why do we feel the need to work so hard? If we aren’t happy in the career we find ourselves in; why do we give it all of our time and energy? Instead, why don’t we aim for something that excites us?

“A ‘good job’ can be both practically attractive while still not good enough to devote your entire life to.” (Alain de Botton, writer and television producer)




I guess it all comes down to balance. We can’t lose out on the ‘other things’ because we are too deep in our ‘work things’. If we are tactical, we can use the job to open the doors to new possibilities.

“Working smarter is learning to prioritize, plan, and focus our energies with meaningful intent.”  (Michael Thomas Sunnarborg, speaker, best-selling author, and life coach)

I mean, in the perfect world that perfect job would exist (and I guess some people may have the amazing privilege to have landed themselves in that position) but for the mean time, it’s all about priorities, and not sacrificing your happiness or freedom for something that does little for you (other than in the monetary sense).

You know you. If you get meaning and satisfaction from being fully embroiled in your job; embrace it. If you see your job as a means to an end; you know that your interest lies elsewhere – take pride in your work, but don’t let it become your entire world.


That’s my rambling done for today.


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