Working to Live vs. Living to Work

Are you consumed by work, or are you simply doing as little as possible to get through each day? Are your coworkers more like family than your actual family, or do you barely know their names? Living to work and working to live are polar opposites, but did you know that both can have an outsized impact not only on your career, but on your entire life? Here’s how to tell if you have an unhealthy relationship with your job, and what you should be doing instead.

Living to Work

Are you spending an extraordinary amount of time at your worksite? Even worse, does your workday begin long before you clock in and end hours after you’ve clocked out? Do your loved ones joke about your career being “the other man” or “the other woman” in your life? Or maybe you’re only “at work” when you’re on the clock, but you can’t stop thinking and talking about it during your off time.

If any of this sounds familiar, you might be living to work. The problem is that no matter how much you love your job, this level of over-engagement simply isn’t sustainable. You are on a potential fast track to burnout.

Living to work puts your outside relationships at risk. It increases your chances of health problems. It ups your stress levels and makes it even more likely that you will eventually collapse from sheer exhaustion.

Working to Live

Do you feel a sense of dread or anxiety as the weekend comes to an end, knowing that you’ll have to face work again soon? Are you feeling trapped by your job? Do you show up and go through the motions while engaging as little as possible with those around you?

If you recognize yourself in these statements, you might be working to live. It’s not uncommon, especially in your mid to late-career. But working to live doesn’t just put your job at risk. It also deprives you of the sense of purpose and engagement that comes with dedicating yourself to meaningful work that you enjoy.

Finding Work-Life Balance

Whether you’re working to live or living to work, the answer you are seeking is work-life balance. The goal is to find a happy medium in which you look forward to the workday and are fully present as it unfolds. But when it’s time to go home, you are able to switch gears entirely and be just as present in your life outside of work.

So how can you do that? Take some time to be alone with your thoughts. Ask yourself questions such as, “If I won the lottery and never had to work again, what would I do with my time?” There are no right or wrong answers, only the ones that feel right to you. Follow the trail of breadcrumbs that emerge and, over time, you’ll figure out how to create more balance. Also, make sure you take a break. Maximize your PTO (paid time off) – it is there and available for a reason. Studies have shown that a good, long break from work (week or so) tremendously helps your attitude, washes away anxiety, and helps re-motivate your interest and enthusiasm for work. Learn more about living to work or working to live.

Ready for a new job?

If you think a new role could be in your future, read this guide to job seekers, and consider searching with SURESTAFF! We can help you find a light industrial position in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin.