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« The Retirement Process | Main | Music by Colleen »

August 22, 2008

Work / Life

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Speaking of retirement, attitudes towards work, etc ... Here's a nice passage from an email sent to me by occasional visitor Karlub:

For the last two years I have a work-life which is ideal: About four hours a day from the house. It only works out because of lifestyle adjustments, the biggest being only having one car between me and the wife, and shelving any desires for grander housing. Still have enough dough, though, to eat well and hit concerts and plays every once in a while. Point is, I've done the 60 hour a week pace with more money. This is way better, and I would be happy to do it this way until I croak. Of course, that assumes my clients will let me.

That's all to say I agree with your outlook. I am flummoxed by people for whom work is the key to their psychology. I'm a work to live guy. Not a live to work guy. It is inconceivable to me, in fact, that anyone would voluntarily have any other outlook.

How about you? Are you a live-to-work person or a work-to-live one?

Thanks to Karlub.



posted by Michael at August 22, 2008


I'm a work to live guy. Even though I own my own business, and do not hate my work, I would rather not work at all. I started my business after being unemployed for over a year, and I was never bored once, even when money was tight. I read, surfed the net learning things and interacting with people, worked on hobbies, etc.

I don't need work to keep myself busy or to give myself meaning. I've heard people(mostly those with run of the mill 9 to 5 jobs) before say that they were bored when they retired, and wanted to go back to work. That is an attitude I just don't understand. How sad that you have so little interest in experiencing things that you can think of nothing else to do except work.

Posted by: JasonM on August 22, 2008 4:47 PM

I love to work, but only what I love to work on. That can range from writing a (dirty) song to scrubbing out the bathtub, so I don't think I'm a snob about it; it's just that I hate doing things I *have* to do, but don't necessarily *want* to do.

I, too, lived the high-flying, high-spending life. Feh. Much more fun this way.

Of course, if money falls in my lap, that's awesome, too. I've just realized that "enough" wasn't as much as I thought it had to be back when I was spending to counteract misery.

Posted by: communicatrix on August 22, 2008 6:12 PM

I would quit in a second if I could, but being a professional geek isn't a bad way to earn a living if you have to.

I don't think you'll get many commentors who live to work around these parts. There's a bit of self-selection going on.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on August 22, 2008 6:22 PM

I'm a live to work sort of person. I don't know why. I just really really really like working. Not in the careerist or social climbing way. If anything, I prefer work like cleaning or assembling things. If I'm not actively working on something I feel like I'm wasting time.

That's not to say I don't have any interests outside work, I've got more than I have time for. It's just I need to work to feel complete and to not have insomnia.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on August 22, 2008 7:03 PM

what Jason said.

However, there is something to be said for the satisfaction of effort leading to rewards. I don't see why that has to be a "job" though, and not some personal project. I think people do have to expend effort to produce or create if only for reasonable psychological health, though, like Jason says, how limited is your imagination that this has to be through work?

Posted by: babobba on August 22, 2008 7:04 PM

Thank you for this thoughtful gem, Michael... It was great to see, my first time back here, in awhile. (The same is true for many blogs, as I've once again been out-of-the-loop.)

I don't know how to do 'trackback pings' to your entries, but I wanted to let you know that I just updated my latest post [I've finally resumed posting... Though I don't know how long it will last :-( ] with a link to this entry. It hits upon themes similar to what I discuss there, and which we all need to be keeping in mind, with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

Thank you for keeping your superb site updated and current, even after these years (that can be quite difficult!), and please keep up the great work!

Posted by: Aakash on August 23, 2008 12:43 AM

I recently had to work from home via computer for a couple of days when our workplace was moving - and I did *not* like it. In a hard-to-explain way it's much easier to maintain a strict demarcation between work and not-work, and working from home blurred the line.

Of course it did not help that the cats were a constant distraction.

Posted by: Peter on August 23, 2008 9:26 AM

Show of hands from the work-to-live folks: how do children and grandchildren figure in?

I happily admit to being what used to be called a Type A, and a large part of it has always been providing for the family and leaving something behind (possible rationalization alert!). Of course, with one 3-month exception, I've always been in jobs with companies doing stuff that I love. Or is that more rationalization?

Anyhoo, off to the garage for more R&D.

Posted by: Scott on August 23, 2008 10:45 AM

Some of the live to work people seem to think of work as challenge, effort, stimulation. Everybody needs those things, even our beloved Michael. You'll notice that he doesn't contrast work with doing nothing. He's a pretty damn active guy, all things considered. Spike et al don't strike me as in any way "live to work" in the sense of careerist, ambitious, "driven", let alone workaholic. Work to me is what you HAVE to get paid to do (jobs) or would have to pay someone to do for you (chores). Everything else, even difficult stressful stuff, is play...not frivolous useless play, which is what our puritanical society thinks of play as being...but real play, which can be hard "work" indeed. Huitzinga, the great Mediaevalist, wrote about Homo Ludens, man who plays, and he understood exactly how important play is in the life of the whole person.

The main men of this blog and most of the commenters here strike me as people with lots going on inside, lots of energy, lots of thought, lots of drive. They may not all be working hard right now (I do have this suspicion that Friedrich is a workaday draft horse, a Clydesdale that can pull heavy and hard and just keep going all day long) but they play hard, all of them.

Sounds to me like they've got their priorities straight.

Party on!

Posted by: PatrickH on August 23, 2008 12:07 PM

I LOVE my work situation right now. I work from home Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and go into the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I get up around 6:30, work out for an hour, drop my kids off at school, then work at home in the morning, have lunch, and then go to the library or a coffee shop (or any place else with free wifi) and finish up around 5 or 6. On office days, I'm in the Bay Area and crash at a friend's house on Tuesday nights, which is a nice night away.

I work in geekery, so for me, it's ideal. Lots of time with the family, and just enough time with coworkers.

I think I'm the kind of person who needs a job, though, as long as I like what I'm doing. Retirement does not appeal to me at this point, though that could very well change in 15 years when I'm 55. Who knows?

Posted by: JV on August 23, 2008 1:29 PM

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