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Why I Don't Have Work-Life Balance (and Don't Want It, Either)

Emily Wong Posted by Emily Wong, Digital Editorial Intern, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.


Why I Don't Have Work-Life Balance (and Don't Want It, Either)

Is it so necessary to separate work and life? Why can't work be a part of life? Or vice-versa? I can see the point of a boundary, but is there anything wrong with not having that boundary?

I need work. Without it, I go insane. I can't go on vacation for more than five days. By the fourth day, I'm already bored and annoyed. No matter how exotic the locale or varied the activities and sights, I want to get back to work. If I was laid off or lost my job, I would take the first job I could get and then apply for the jobs that I wanted. I would do almost anything (and have). My previous lives included stints as a bartender, dishwasher, flyer-distributor, florist, art salesman, retail clothing guy, waiter, janitor, refreshment stand vendor at a camp for rich kids (least favorite), night manager at a seedy Tenderloin hotel (most favorite), painter/illustrator, and so the list goes on. I didn't do these jobs because money was so crucial (actually, it was, but I had decent savings). I did them because I needed to work.

At one point, I thought there was something wrong with me psychologically (apart from all the stuff that I'm already aware of, that is). I wondered whether I was running away from something that I did not wish to face and using work as my escape. I spoke to Rick Wilson, our VP of Production because, well, he always seems to know a great deal of sagely stuff. Rick said that I was probably one of those people with a Calvinist work ethic. It's not just religion, he said, some people are genuinely at their best when they're working because they see work as its own reward and derive pleasure or satisfaction from hard work. The Calvinists tended to force this view on everyone, but no one thought that some people would actually enjoy it -- masochists that they were.

So I suppose I'm an atheist Calvinist. Good enough.