Monday, September 3, 2007

I Work to Live, I Don't Live to Work

This morning, I read an interesting articles on Alternet which I ended up leaving a novel-sized reply to. What follows is my comment to the article. Go to Alternet and read The Vanishing American Vacation first, then come back here to read and respond to my reply.

I Work to Live, I Don't Live to Work

I am most definitely NOT a workaholic. My job isn't who I am; it's just a means to an end. And I believe my time is as important as, or even more important, than my money.

I don't want to work one hour longer than is necessarily in order to adequately support myself. To this end, I'm willing to accept a lower standard of living in order keep as much of my time for my own purposes instead of that of an employer. I want my time now to enjoy, instead of waiting until retirement when my energy level and health may not be at the level it is now. Indeed, there is no guarantee I'll even live that long.

To workaholics I'd ask, what good is all that extra money if you're too tired to enjoy it and always at work, anyway?

Like the majority of Americans, I don't work in an intrinsically rewarding or creative job. My job means nothing more to me than a source of money to support myself with. I do a good job when I'm there, but I'm simply not going to invest any more of myself than is necessarily earning a living.

Indeed, more employers these days are offering fewer or no benefits: less paid sick leave, less paid vacation time, etc. Many employers think they "own" an employee 24/7; expecting an employee to always be on call, changing their work schedules any time without notice, and that they can dictate a employee's behavior off the clock in their private lives -- random drug tests typically indicate off-time drug/alcohol use, not whether an employee is intoxicated/high on the clock, employers have fired people for adultery, to cite a few examples. They don't invest in us, so why should we invest any more than necessary in them?

More jobs are also going from 8 hour days to 10 and 12 hour schedules. Our ancestors who worked hard to get the 40 hour week are no doubt whirling in their graves to see a creeping return to the sunup to sundown schedule of the 19th century. As for me, I wouldn't accept a job with these hours -- it's bad for one's health to live this far out of the work/leisure/rest balance. I've had to accept making less money that I might otherwise, but the gain in time is worth it.

My current job offers no paid vacation whatsoever. But when I had jobs that did, I made sure to take every day allotted to me. But even now, I still take an unpaid day off here and there, tacked onto a weekend. Of course, I'm stuck taking the hit of a day's pay lost, but the time gained outweighs the money lost.

After all, no one ever said on their death beds that they wished they'd spent more time at the office.

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