Most of the people I know work a job they don’t really like. They do it because it enables them to live the rest of their life the way they want it. They work Monday through Friday from 9 – 5 for ~50 weeks of the year so that they can do whatever they want on the nights and weekends.
It’s an understandable trade-off. That work provides for you financially. It enables you to buy a house and a car, take nice vacations, and save for retirement. But they only live for the nights and weekends. They are content at work only because they spend that time thinking about and planning what they’re going to do when they leave. I don’t think most people give this a second thought because it is just a continuation of the mentality we all develop in high school and college.
Contrast that with how I feel. I love my nights and weekends, but I also love what I do the rest of the time. Sure, I look forward to catching up with my friends. But I equally look forward to that next project we’re working on. We do exciting work. Nearly everything we do has a direct impact. It either increases our efficiency, increases sales, or improves our customer experience. Plus I really enjoy writing this blog, working on side projects like Music-Alerts and Z.ips.ME, and reading entrepreneurship books, magazines, and blogs.
“Work” is fun and exciting to me. Just as fun and exciting as the stuff that goes on at night or on the weekend, sometimes even more so. In fact, my definition of work – something I do that furthers my business – is completely different than most people’s definition of work – something that they do to pay the bills. This causes a really big divide between myself and just about everyone else I know.
I don’t put as much effort into planning my nights and weekends because proportionally they aren’t as important to me. It’s not the only place I get my fun and satisfaction from. If plans fall apart, or change and become something I don’t want to do, it doesn’t bother me to relax at home for the night. Maybe I’ll do some work, or maybe I’ll just flip on the Mets game and relax. My Friday night is just as valuable as my Tuesday afternoon. Fun/enjoyment/satisfaction – I get those every day from both my work life and my personal life.
Conversely, everyone else only has Friday and Saturday to cram in all of their fun, so there’s this (kind of annoying) sense of desperation I sense every time the night isn’t absolutely “perfect” by their standards. Or a smug response when I’m working on an exciting project on Friday @ 5 PM and don’t want to stop. Almost like “your work is more important than your friends/family. Why do you need to be working on a Friday night?” It’s not that at all. I don’t need to be. I probably only need to work maybe 30 hours/week. I want to keep working on that project. Just like you want to be drinking a beer and looking forward to your weekend.
I realize that’s a foreign idea to some people. Actually wanting to do your work. I also realize that I will almost always be in the minority when it comes to my approach to work-life balance. Of course, that also means that there will always be some stress in my life created from a misunderstanding/misinterpretation of that approach.