By Ryan Healy – At the office full of twentysomethings where my girlfriend, Niki, works, everyone was comparing their salaries, and the owner of the company got really angry. And his being angry made for a tough week, so Niki asked him if she could take Friday off.

He said, “If you’re going to be successful you need to start putting your career before your life.”

Of course she took the day off.

When she told her mother about the situation, her mother said, “If you don’t put your life before work you will never be happy.”

Hearing this conflicting advice from two of the most influential elders in your life is confusing. What does Niki’s boss say to his kids when he gets home? Does he tell them to put work before life? What would Niki’s mom say to young people she works with? Would she tell them to go home early?

This whole notion of needing to separate work and life implies that your career, which takes up about 75% of your day, is something you simply try to get through so you can go home and do what you really enjoy for the other 25%. What a terrible way to live.

I wholeheartedly believe that my life has a purpose. My purpose is to be successful, genuinely happy and to make a difference in this world somewhere along the way. Not a single one of these values can take a backseat to another. The balance doesn’t work, we already know this. I don’t want to choose. I want a blended life.

Occasionally I need to contact an older co-worker late at night or on a Sunday. Typically, I email the person, receive no response and the work waits until the next day’s business hours. Usually, I am hesitant to call and bother older people during their “home time.” My home time is not sacred. I have grown up being connected twenty-four hours a day, I have no problem with sending a quick work email or organizing my inbox during these supposed “off” hours.

There is no need for me to keep work life and home life separate. The majority of week nights you can find me in front of the computer chatting with a friend, watching TV and messing around with MySpace or Facebook. I may as well send out an email or finish up a work briefing at the same time. When I told my friend about this post, he said, “Work/life balance? That doesn’t even make sense.”

Think about it, he is absolutely right. I would never dream of saying I want a Family/Life balance or I want a Friend/Life balance. Is work so terrible that people don’t want to consider it a part of their lives? I sure hope not, because if that’s the case than the next fifty years of my life are going to suck!

The lines between work and life have been blurred for years. I have decided to embrace this fact and work on the best blend for my life. Whether this means working hours that fit around my schedule or being paid for results rather than the amount of hours worked, I’m not sure. I will leave that question to the management consultants and human resource experts. In the meantime my peers and I will keep searching for this blended life, while everyone else continues to run in circles failing to achieve their so-called balance.

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  1. Hill
    Hill says:

    I am 29 years old and I have to be honest, I believe in putting in my 40 hours, nothing more or less. My job is just that, a job. I have decades of working left and do not want to burn out. I need my free time to be my time just for the sake of mental health, off the clock to do with as I wish.

  2. Becky
    Becky says:

    This post and subsequent comments has been an interesting read.

    The first number of years of my twenties I lived something like this. I put my all and sometimes a little more into both my work life and personal life. I managed to work full time, while attending school and still having a social life. I loved my life. When I think back to the energy I had then, I’m quite frankly amazed.

    A blended life does sound ideal, and if you can achieve that, then by all means do so! However I think for this to truly work you have to be able to find a job that you enjoy, or feel proud to be a part of.

    A comment was made about how most of the workforce puts in their 40 hours at work and then tells their job to shove it the rest of the time. This is probably because many, if not most people do not like their jobs. If all you can get is 40hrs a week at a call centre, do you really want it to impeded on your personal time? No.

    Some jobs are high stress. Sometimes what starts out as a blended life can turn into a life ALL about work.

    I’m still young. At 27, I’m still looking for a career that I love, or even like. In my experience, most people who have successful blended lives, have careers that they enjoy. Unfortunately not everyone is able to find such a career.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done, I just think it’s harder to come by than not.

    • Cathlyn
      Cathlyn says:

      Ugh…You’re so right, it’s ridiculous. 8 hours is never 8 hours and having to squeeze in you time is just a crazy notion that so many people accept. You didn’t even include study time for school (which is what I lack and my grades are certainly suffering). It is just endless.

  3. William G
    William G says:

    The book should be named 4 hour work day. The perfect work day even for a job you hate can work if its 4-6 hours.

    Why do we have so much divorce, health problems with weight, lack of sleep?

    The Reason: 8 hour work day and here is why , the 8 work day is not 8 hours! The 8 hour work day is what you have to account for at work but here is where the other parts of your life take a hit.
    8 HOURS FOR WORK
    8 HOURS FOR SLEEP
    8 HOURS FOR SOCIAL LIFE
    This was the master plan set back when the 8 hours was started , the problem is that world your job was the mill or factory right next door

    But with the world we live in
    8 hours of work
    +1-2 hours each way to the job if not more for traffic = 10 hours
    + 1/2 hour lunch break “most jobs have gone to” 10 1/2 hours

    Now
    1 hour : To get ready , shower, brush your teeth fix the morning breakfast etc.

    Now: 1 hour for the GYM or excercise , no matter if its 30 minutes or not you still have to drive and get back

    Dinner cooking 1-2 hours

    Don’t forget those 8 hours of sleep to do the same cycle over again the next day. Ohh that’s right you had no time for yourself so you then eat into your sleep time which makes all these factors start to slowly creep into your life.

    And they wonder why depression and health is now our major cause.

    • gpnyrd
      gpnyrd says:

      I know this is a year old.. but wow, I am so glad I am not the only one who sees things EXACTLY like this! I thought I was lazy, selfish, and crazy. I look around and no one else in the office seems to be bothered by this way of life, meanwhile I literally scream and punch my steering wheel as I am stuck in traffic at 530 everyday… I could go on.
      But thanks for posting this – it has motivated to find my dream of working around my schedule 

  4. Beth Mahoney
    Beth Mahoney says:

    We were not meant to be slaves to some miserable life stuck in a cubicle. I hate my job with all my heart. I think we should ALL revolt and refuse to work a 40 hour week. If no one was willing to work 40 hours they could not force us to do it like a slave. Life was not spent to be in misery 40 hours a week, if we all refused to do it they couldn’t force us to, revolt against this slavery people!!

    • Blue Eyed Freak
      Blue Eyed Freak says:

      I agree, but ‘the system’ and propaganda machine has it where we have convinced others that money and material gain is the way for happiness.

      The revolt would never happen. But through simple math if we all did a 20 your week. That’s 2x as many jobs, ego more people at work, for maybe new production as people aren’t tired the latter half the week. Though this plays into ‘the masters’ hands again, as then they’d all be competing against each other so the 20 hours would be the most slave driven agonizing 20 hours ever.

      Not to mention, that as a result wages would be halved. Which for the first 5 years until values of items dropped to counter this new world. Would lead to hardship. as a result people would work 2 20 hour week jobs. Ergo 40 hour weeks still reign…

      The only way out
      1. A huge revolution, that can never happen as government and the money powerful people have army and police to prevent such a thing.

      2. Move to an island and form a new society, sadly more possible than the former option, though not as much though.

      Face it we’re slaves to money, Jacques fresco is right. Only way out is work for self. but even then, still slaving it to the money

  5. abby
    abby says:

    Hey Ryan,
    I’m one of the old folks, 40, and I love the blended life! The only way I could do it, was to work for myself.
    Oh by the way, I don’t mind receiving emails at any hour, but jeez don’t call people after a certain time, manners please, we’re not animals.

  6. Cathlyn
    Cathlyn says:

    Hi, thank you so much for writing your blog. In this crazy world, I thought I was only one who thought the way things are right now is just ridiculous. I started my job as a reservationist for a travel company when I was 20. So that was 40 hours a week working on someone else’s time while only a fraction of what was left was for me. I am 23 now and I already feel drained. I feel crazy because people I know just go with the flow. Of course I hear complaints, but never any action. I quit that job and just got hired for a new one but my heart is not in it. I want to be able to work for myself on my time. I want to be happy. Why not? That is what life is about. Life is too short to spend wasting away doing something your heart is not in to. I think I have always felt this but the feeling is so intense now. Could it be that I am still having issues from my mother’s recent passing? Possibly. But maybe it takes something like that for change to happen. Life is not sitting at your desk all day waiting for your shift to be over. Life isn’t about making the most money in the world. Money can make life easier but happy, only you can do that. I have so many ideas, so many passions. I can’t settle for what doesn’t fit anymore. But I feel I am fighting with what is considered the norm. I’m not going to lie, it is making me fearful. But I can’t let fear stop me. I have no kids, not married. If I fail, at least I know I tried.

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      I agree with you whole heartedly. I thought I was alone too so it feels important to reach out to like-minded individuals. I posted earlier about myself in response to a couple other people before I got to your post. What are we going to do?

  7. Yadgyu
    Yadgyu says:

    For me, being a high-powered exec is more important than being a good parent.

    Things cost money. Staying at home doesn't buy things. Going out there and making as much money as possible is the best thing to do. Everyone wants to live the good life. But the good life costs. So what if you can't make it to the softball game or the ballet recital! If you are bringing home big bucks, you are doing more for your family than any amount of time will.

    A parent that doesn't make a ton of money is shameful. Kids want iPhones, computers, jeans, sneakers, and other cool stuff. How can a kid be cool if mom or dad only works 40 hours a week but brings home diddley squat? I would rather work a ton of hours and make a ton of money than come home at the same time and sit in the house with a nagging wife and bratty children. A family has to understand that having things is more important than being together. Working less and spending more time with the family is old-world peasant's talk. It's all about the money today!

    Financial success is the only true form of success today.

    • Blue Eyed Freak
      Blue Eyed Freak says:

      I am reading this hoping that this is tongue in cheek, otherwise I do feel very sorry for you.

      If this is whole heartedly meant, congratulations! You are one of the many ‘sheep’ who have been ‘brought’ by the corporate western world.

      You call your kids pretty, and spoil them. Does it not occur to you, should you spend less than your complete waking hours at work that your family would ever want your company as a person? You have become a cash cow to both your family and your work. I’m sure your corporation that you outsource your hours to loves you more than your family! That is until you stop ‘bringing home the bacon’; be this through sickness, stress or just general age.

      My freind you have convinced yourself to be happy with your lot. But I’m guessing your ‘inner child’ desperately isn’t. I’m glad this works for you and many others.

      I myself prefer being self employed. Outsourcing my skillset for results based pay, as opposed to that of an ‘hourly rate’. I am on this earth through biological mishap / grace of God, but I see no point in trading my base instincts for happiness in order to get involved with the materialistic ‘hoi Paloi’.

      I sat an watched a mother work all the hours god sends, so that a lazy uninterested father, and a work place gradually sapped the inner soul from her.
      I would have rather been as poor as church mice and spent more rime as a family, as opposed to fair well off and lonely.

      People like you who buy into the corporate coin, I have met many times. You are not bad people, but sadly you have convinced yourself that this is the best way.

      You will defend your view point, and I look forward to you doing so (that’s if you have time, or are still alive if the stress has not killed you).

      You maybe wondering why I am slightly hostile to your view point? Reason being is this attitude is what has contributed to the lining of the ‘new lords pockets’. While sociological values and worth has broken down, for a grabbing hands society.

      Neo feudalism as someone said is a very apt description indeed.

  8. BMindful
    BMindful says:

    Hello Ryan,

    I understand and appreciate your thoughts on having a career that you love as well as a “blended life”. I am single and work many hours myself. In addition, I do find my job both fascinating and enjoyable. At the end of the day though, I can not help to think that if I were laying on my death-bed, would I wish that I would have worked more? I always come to the same conclusion that spending time with my family and friends are more important to me.

    Good luck with your efforts,
    -BMindful

  9. Allison
    Allison says:

    Good luck finding a job that makes your life more fulfilling in this economy. I graduated with honors from an ivy league and I consider myself lucky to have found work as an administrative assistant. Sure, I could have a job contributing to interesting projects at a prestigious company, but they wouldn’t pay me for it.

  10. Darcy
    Darcy says:

    I stumbled across this blog because I did a Google search for “I don’t want to work anymore.” I am a 49-year-old working mother of two young children. I finally found a job that I don’t hate but I don’t want to spend 40 hours of my life stuck in this grey cube. I want to be at home taking care of my family but I make more than my husband so I’m stuck unless I win the lottery. (Which by the way, is why 99% of people play – so they can tell their bosses goodbye)

    I find your 22-year-old naevete amusing. I realize this article was written 4 years ago. I’m wondering where you are with that “blended life” now, especially after the economy took a nose dive and employers decided they could do with half as many employees. Now companies are no longer interested in cooperating on where/when their employees work and most could care less about whether you enjoy your work or get enough family time. Work sucks, that’s why they call it work.

    • gpnyrd
      gpnyrd says:

      lol, I did the same exact google search. And have the same views as you. I too am curious to see how the author is doing.

    • gpnyrd
      gpnyrd says:

      lol, I did the same exact google search. And have the same views as you. I too am curious to see how the author is doing.

    • gpnyrd
      gpnyrd says:

      lol, I did the same exact google search. And have the same views as you. I too am curious to see how the author is doing.

  11. Nate
    Nate says:

    Ryan,

    I agree with you that life is blended… if you love what you do, then you will do what it takes.

    However, read the book “Bowling Alone”… this describes the erosion of family and community life of most Americans over the last 20 years.

    We cannot outsource the PTA, your child needs to know that you care about thier activities, they need to be coached, our communities don’t need more people working and sacrificing service work… it isn’t a good thing that folks spend thier nights online and not in face to face company with their neighbors…

    Your email describes the reality where social capital is no longer being spent and it is being redirected to the all powerful corporation. Communities cannot grow if you don’t invest in them… with no social capital, the differences grow, people grow distant, meaningful relationships don’t occur, things don’t get done… America slowly becomes a place of either hyper competition or a poor wasteland where greed reigns…

    Thanks

    • Yadgyu
      Yadgyu says:

      America is already a hyper competitive place and a poor wasteland where greed reigns. You either get greedy and take what you want or go with your feelings and suffer. There is no in between. The good old days of working hard, being honest, and hoping the future will be better than today are over.

  12. Jack Rigaut
    Jack Rigaut says:

    “My home time is not sacred. I have grown up being connected twenty-four hours a day, I have no problem with sending a quick work email or organizing my inbox during these supposed “off” hours.”

    Congratulations! You’re life has been completely co-opted by your employer! The triumph of neo-feudalism is nigh!

    “Is work so terrible that people don’t want to consider it a part of their lives?”

    Yes!

    “I sure hope not, because if that’s the case than the next fifty years of my life are going to suck!”

    With luck, you will one day wake up and smell the coffee: they will.

  13. Me
    Me says:

    I completely agree with you that a job isn’t something you do just to pay the bills. When I graduated college that was the biggest incentive: something that i felt passionate about that I felt I could give the world. I became an actress, and as an artist, there is a certain amount of obsession with your work, we are the eternal freelancers: working in one project, while immediately looking for the next.

    I love what I do, and while it is not the same as having a 9-5 job, and I know you folks probably deal with other difficulties that I do not. I, however, learned eventually that you cannot bring work home. Like many of the people have commented, there is virtue in finding balance. It’s not that our jobs are something to be weathered, at least in my case it isn’t, but it is important to set boundaries.

    The things is that there are other aspects of our lives that are just as important, whether you’re single or a parent, or married without kids. Attention should be paid to each section of our lives, so that we can have fulfilling relationships, a healthy life, time to see the world, friends, loved ones. But when we blur those lines, sometimes it can be exhausting, which has happened to me, not knowing when to say no, or where to put boundaries, can sometimes leave us stressed, with our energies depleted.

    Again you’re still in your early twenties so you have energy to burn! Good luck, and awesome blog!

  14. vin rouge
    vin rouge says:

    Never leave any question about your life’s worth in anyone else’s hands, especially the management consultants and human resource experts. And by the way, who are your “peers” and who is “everyone else”?

  15. Luke
    Luke says:

    I used to have a work/life that I was happy with. I worked <30 hrs a week and got off at 3pm every day Mon-Fri.

    I had LOTS of time to do what I wanted and I loved my job because it was an unusual situation that other people couldn't relate to. Being salaried and off at 3pm, Crazy!

    I even did work at home in the evenings because I enjoyed it. I did that for about a year before being pushed to full time + more… and it's gone downhill from there.

    I'm more stressed, more depressed, and constantly thinking the weekends are too short to accomplish everything else I want to work on.

    In my mind: Time is the most important asset. Once you've spent it, you can't get more of it.

    Am I lazy, or a bad person if I don't want to trade my limited time in life for extra money I don't need? My employer would say so…

  16. Jackofalltrades12232012
    Jackofalltrades12232012 says:

    i agree with this post 100% but the worst thing about work is the people who are brainwashed to believe anything their company tells them is truth, its like they no longer have a mind of their own, they are robot drones who want you to sacrifice your life just as they did to get the large salary like they have!!! I’m really fed up of my work place its truly worthless besides me getting same check week in and week out to pay the same bills to do it all over again next month, if your wondering MY COMPANY IS TITLEMAX.BIZ AND IT SUCKS MAJOR DONKEY BALLS!!!

  17. Wolfran
    Wolfran says:

    The next 50 years of your life will suck because work is a burden. You sound like you might be able to delude yourself otherwise so perhaps things will not be so bad.

  18. Liz
    Liz says:

    You have a good point, that work should be enjoyable and a part of your life that you want to experience.

    If people were given the opportunity to follow their passions instead of being shoved into the general labor workforce then more people would be happy with their jobs. {And i don’t mean college education for opportunities, more so start up money to create a business or something else.}

    However for most people work really is that terrible.
    Especially when you live in a tiny town where you either flip burgers or become a factory worker {and only if you jump through the temp services hoops}.

    Majority of people don’t have a fulfilling job, they do menial labor.
    And getting out of the general workforce is expensive {college, or entrepreneurship, what-have-you}.

    so many are stuck, and they give up on the idea of being happy at a job. So they try to be happy with life because that’s all we have.

    Living at the low end of the job spectrum {food service} the only enjoyment i get out of work is conversation with my coworkers.
    Which also can be a downer since they are high school kids that have a more ‘fun’ life than me. Some have kids, boyfriends/husbands, while I’m sitting here on the internet.
    because my little town doesn’t provide opportune places to meet other singles except the bar {and i don’t drink}.

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