Living to work?

I love my job. Sure, there are dull moments, days and even weeks, but when I get to help develop a strategic communications plan, brainstorm new branding ideas, or attend a successful event that I helped orchestrate– that makes it all worth it.

But is it really worth the time invested?

Many countries, including France and even China, are decreasing their work days.

Henry Ford, who was a believer in 4-day work weeks, cited financial reasons as well as humanitarian benefits. The idea is that with more leisure time, people will consume more products– for hobbies, trips, etc. — and boost sales for all sorts of businesses, ultimately improving the economy and improving the businesses for whom they work.Also, more time off to exercise, take care of errands, etc. means people may be more focused and creative when they return to work.

I enjoy my work and feel truly grateful to my parents for setting me up for such great opportunities– I feel that I am on the fast-track to a full-time, grown-up, bringing-home-the-bacon kind of career. But frankly, I’m a little scared.

Mentors, other professionals, and co-workers in my field all seem to love their jobs, as well, but they are responsible for so many projects and seem to struggle with maintaining their personal lives, relationships, families, health, etc.Is that really how I want to live? Is the money really worth the difficult balancing act?

I’m wondering why the U.S. has yet to adopt these new standards and decrease working hours. I believe people should work to live, not live to work, and if they like their jobs as much as I do, then the working part should come relatively easy.

Am I wrong?


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kelsy on April 19, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I agree with you, but I think it’s a generational difference that results in the difference in attitudes. Gen X and Millenials are more prone to see work as a means to live, not live to work.

    I wish that we could be a little more like Spain and and take siestas during the middle of the day and place mandatory vacations into the year, but Americans don’t view that as a valuable aspect of the company I guess. If we’re not producing, producing, producing, we’re what? Worthless?


  2. Posted by David on April 20, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Definitely an interesting idea, though I’m not sure if it’s one that would benefit the economy like you’ve suggested. Specifically, where you outline Henry Ford’s argument regarding the increased consumer spending as a means of stimulating the economy seems a bit outdated.

    What I mean by that is this: we are now competing with several emerging industrial markets at the same time that many of our domestic producers are seeing a major decline in business. In light of that, any increase in consumer spending may result in a larger increase in our dependence on foreign markets rather than domestic. This particular increase in consumer spending via a reduced work week would also come at the likely expense of capacity utilization (if not worker efficiency), which might hurt our domestic economy further. And, while the increased dependence on foreign markets may stimulate the global economy, the reduced industrial production would likely hurt that as well as the domestic.

    By no means am I an expert, but I do feel your stronger arguments are the ones that don’t take the economic issue into account. Still, thanks for the food for thought.


    • Posted by allisonbroyles on April 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      I see how it’s possible that it would increase our dependence on foreign markets but don’t you think it’s a huge assumption that people would be spending more money on foreign products than domestic ones?

      Also, that was meant to be just a reference to one argument made in the article I read, to which I included a link (given, it is Wikipedia, but for my purposes that seems reliable enough.) Mainly, I just wanted to share that Americans work way more than other countries in our capability realm, and I think we need to slow it down.

      Thanks for reading!


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