Friday, September 29, 2006

Time or Money?

While driving today, I heard a talk show host blithely assert that working forty hour weeks was for "losers". He went on to state that all the "successful" people he knew regularly worked many more hours than that. These comments were made indirectly in relation to saving for one's retirement. As a conservative, he lamented the idea of the government doing anything to help people in their old age.

He and I obviously have a very different view of what success is. Yes, spending every available waking hour possible devoted to one's job will most likely make a person end up with more money available for both spending and saving.

But at what cost? People can get so caught up in making a living that they forget how to live. This man obviously didn't consider that most people are not working at fulfilling, inspiring careers -- most of us have jobs that we tolerate, if we're lucky, that are merely a means to an end. And all the ambition in the world won't make fulfulling careers available to everyone who will just work hard enough for it. Someone has to flip the burgers, carry the bags, drive the buses, and so on.

It's more than a little insensitive to suggest that these people and others in less than rewarding jobs spend even more time doing them, to the neglect of the things in life that really matter to most people: our families, friends, lovers, spouses, and hobbies.

We only live once and we have to live in the now; not spend our active, productive years focused solely on our retirements -- we don't even know if we'll live that long.

He went on to describe the retirements of such "losers" who thought that working 40 hours a week was sufficient -- condemned to the horrors of living in a double-wide trailer!

Well, I think that's a fair trade-off for having actually fully lived and enjoyed my life during my prime years, instead of spending every possible moment working. Indeed, what of the workaholic who drops dead from overwork before he can even enjoy the fruits of his labor in retirement? Who is the "loser" here?

Time is just as valuable a commodity as money; even more so, in my book. Having less money but having had a full life is a fair exchange, I'm thinking.
After all, no one ever says they wished they'd spent more time at the office when they're on their deathbeds.


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