The equilibrium between “work” and “life” has been an always present issue throughout almost all of my 34 years old. The main issue is that I’m not the source of the problem… for me there is none!
Since I can remember I’m fascinated by technology and since internet reached Portuguese consumer market that fascination got a special focus.
Internet and the positive impacts it can bring to the world drove most of my life since then.
I quickly figured out I had at my disposal an incredible tool to make a positive dent into society, I just didn’t know how to materialize it.
And it was then, early on, that the work-life balance “problem” started to appear…
At first, while living with my parents and after getting my first computer, I started to listen every other day: “Stop playing with the computer…”, “Why don’t you read more instead of being at the computer so many hours…”, “I shouldn’t have bought you that damn thing, it will hurt your future…”…
It was impossible to explain my parents that I was actually learning, not playing, and that I knew back then that computers would be most of my future.
Nowadays I think I still battle the same misconception but in a different manifestation and from people that have more information than my parents had back then.
I keep hearing from friends, blog posts and everywhere else that I should work less hours, I should go to the movies more, travel more… “Work isn’t everything you know…”. What I think most of them fail to realize, is that programming, learning new technologies, user interaction and ui design, finding solutions to hard problems using technology… these are my passions not only my work. Movies, concerts and so on, are their passions, not mine, why would I trade?
Many would say that being focused on and thinking about the same subject for so many hours a day, isn’t good for my mental health neither is it productive. This advice fails to realise that I’m not always thinking about the same thing, I’m reading about different subjects, learning about different techs, tackling different problems. They just coincidently happen to be applicable to the stuff people are willing to pay me for.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a beautiful daughter that is my main passion, there’s not even a way to compare both. Every time I can opt between time with her and any other thing I will opt to be with my little princess.
I think that other source for this misconception is the motivation behind why people work.
Sadly, most people I know work with only one end in mind, their salary or any other kind of monetary compensation. I work because I love what I do and I’m driven by my own mission and the one of the company I work for.
Yesterday I was listening to Jerry Colonna reboot podcast he was talking with Ben Sounders a guy that broke the record for the longest ever polar journey on foot to the south pole, nearly seventy marathons back-to-back, probably the biggest physical achievement done ever by anyone. This was a journey that took more than 8 years in the making.
You know what he felt after completing this monster achievement?
Almost nothing because the pleasure is in the journey! Not in crossing the line… (his words not mine).
So before criticising others devotion to “work”, maybe we should first think if our own priorities are the best ones.
Disclaimer: I do go to the movies, occasionally go to the soccer stadium to see my Benfica and I even see some lame TV shows from time to time. It just seem to be in a less frequent manner than society seems to accept as normal.