Work-Life Balance

The line between workaholism and ambition are sometimes blurred; most of us have to work to survive in this world, and some still struggle to make ends meet. This is especially true in the United States where a capitalist society creates a culture that forces its citizens to compete for jobs, salary, and benefits by rewarding working longer instead of better. Politics aside, it can be discouraging for a young adult in corporate America to discover that those who work 60+ hours per week instead of the “legally mandated” 40 hours are praised and recognized for essentially surrendering their lives to their companies.

I had a boss once tell me that “when you’re in your 20s you should be working as much as possible because well, you just can.” This reminded me of the age-old testament that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. He went on to say that I would be making a grave mistake by leaving my position at a company which monopolized my days, nights, weekends, and basically any free time I had.

I now work at a great company that has provided me with the flexibility to live the life that I want to live while having the financial resources to support myself. I can’t say that I love the work that I do, but developing a healthy work-life balance has allowed me to spend time outside of work nourishing my hobbies and interests. Will my decision to cut back on hours and leave a gigantic international company decrease my earning potential? Probably. But, I have decided that my life is so much more fulfilling when it is not only defined by a paycheck.

apartment comfortable contemporary couch

Career Building

If we all became what we “wanted to be when we grew up”, then the world would be filled with astronauts, doctors, and race car drivers. Although pursuing these dream jobs is noble and ambitious, our society needs a well-balanced array of trades and skills. Still, people in my generation (yes, I’m a millennial) were expected to pursue higher-education degrees in order to compete in our workforce.

Why were concepts such as ‘happiness’ and ‘fulfillment’ in relation to a career not emphasized to us as children? I certainly was caught in the trap of believing that I had to become a surgeon, high-powered attorney, or business executive in order to be successful. Little did I know that these professions were one way, but not the only way to achieve career satisfaction and financial stability.

If I could go back in time and speak to my 18-year-old self, I would advise her that the value of a career lies in how it is built rather than what it is. Developing one’s career-related skills, whether it be by obtaining vocational certifications or a PhD, is important for setting a solid foundation as a respected, trusted, and valued professional. We need scientists and mathematicians as well as electricians, police officers, and educators – I think that our younger generations should be taught that a so-called “glamorous” job is not the only (or even guaranteed) way to achieve success.

space research science astronaut