Is it All Worth It?

It seems that folks are working at their jobs longer and harder all the time. It is not uncommon for families with two parent households to have one of the adults (usually the father) working 80 to 100 hours per week. It is also not uncommon for single heads of households (usually women) to spend most of their waking hours at work. This has happened because somewhere in the last fifteen years or so, it has become the norm and acceptable to work these horrendous hours.

The advantage to working so many hours is the possibility of making a ton of cash and increased class status in your community. The disadvantages are:

  • little time to spend with kids and significant other
  • sleep deprivation
  • increased stress
  • increased likely hood of developing health problems
  • always feeling a time crunch
  • an expectation of satisfaction that is never met (despite a high salary), and a sense that life is passing you by

Now in many instances, parents have no choice but to work an ungodly amount of hours. They are from families who are barey surviving in an expensive area such as the San Francisco Bay Area and need every dollar they make.

But for those who are fortunate to make enough money to have a large amount of discretionary income, I ask you: Is it all worth it? If you look at the quality of your life, are you happy or does something seem to be missing? What price are you paying by having so little time to hang out with you children or your partner? What price are they paying by seeing you so infrequently? How well do you really know your kids and what activities do you share when you do have time to get together? Do you have a connection with your family? Or, in your drive to succeed in the business world, have you lost the concept of what connection means? How do you define success? Is it more important to make millions of dollars or to have a close bond with your children? Is it possible to do both?

Author Bob Livingstone is a psychotherapist from San Mateo, CA.

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6 Responses to Is it All Worth It?

  1. Michele Casari says:

    As a Developmental Therapist working w/children with special needs, movement is a known to be a critical factor in learning. Between the ages of birth and five, children’s play is their way of learning and building the foundations for continued learning in the classroom. Academics of reading, writing, speaking, spelling and math have their base skills in movement: rhythm, simultaneity, sequencing, motor control and planning, spatial organization and orientation among others are explored, experienced and understoon in the process of playing.

  2. Mike Lanza says:

    This article reminds me of a New York Times article from this past summer, In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich. It discusses many “millionaires” who don’t feel like successes, and continue to work very hard. Of course, in parts of Silicon Valley, $1 million doesn’t even buy a decent house, but many of the people whining were worth $5 -$10 million. I feel sorry for those guys, and actually, I know a few of the ones quoted in the article.

  3. Michael Tarr says:

    Also relevant is the book:

    The Progress Paradox
    How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse
    Written by Gregg Easterbrook


  4. Simon says:

    ‘San Francisco’ magazine ran a good article in the last year about Bay Area lawyers who were giving up on the work-insane-hours-to-make-partner treadmill by starting their own small law firms. The principals were all making less but actually had some balance in their lives.

    I wonder if that’s something we’ll see happening in other professions?

    Here’s the link:

  5. Mike Lanza says:

    You know, there’s a parallel from this discussion of how people push themselves too hard to the point of unhappiness and how they treat their kids. Why is it that the more affluent parents’ kids have the most scheduled lives? I would normally think that money can buy one choices in life, but why, then, are affluent parents choosing lives for their kids so devoid of fun? Do they really not want their kids to have fun?

  6. To elaborate on my original post and those bloggers who have taken the time to respond: I believe that folks are driven to work hard out of a distorted view of a work ethic that is inherently American. It is great to work hard for eight hours a day, but not sixteen. Many of us have bought into consumerism; that is accompanied by the belief that the more toys, gadgets, goods you have, the happier you are. Unfortunately this belief is false. Buying stuff will cause feelings of euphoria for short term pleasure only. We need to look inside ourselves and talk to our support network about what really matters.