Work, Life, and Money – Finding a Balance and Not Going into Extremes

People who know me understand that I am a hybrid, a mixture of classic and contemporary; a bit of a yin and a bit of a yang. Some approve, while some greatly disapprove my outlook on life, because I choose not to move towards one side of the coin – rather I choose to find a balance. Now whether the coin is a metaphoric presentation of work, life or money, I do not choose to give precedence over one, neglecting the other.

For this dire need of balance between my job and my family, the corporate world may look down on me for not willing to work beyond 8 hours. The world may scorn me for not being career-oriented or ambitious enough. Society may laugh on me for remaining mediocre. Because in the world we live in today, it is mandatory to give it your all towards your job, because that’s what validates your existence. I refuse to follow this.

I refuse to go towards an extreme. So, with all this pressure, I’ve come up with a few logical parameters I’ve applied to life in general. Sharing it here, so that anyone being in my shoes, may get some help too.

Work is Important, but Work is Not Life 

Yes, work is important. We all need to work to survive in an ever increasingly pressurized lifestyle. I’m not like spiritual gurus or Paulo Coelho, to tell you to quit work and run after your passion and go live on the streets or in asharam even if you have to. No. Because their reality is much more different than ours. In the society we live, we don’t just earn for ourselves – we earn for our families too. It is impossible (unless you have a heart of stone) to simply neglect your family and go run after your dreams. Many of us, end up sacrificing our dreams and move towards making our jobs our lives. Because it is easier to become a robot than to actually work hard(er) to maintain both your job and your dreams.

So what do you do about it? It’s quite simple actually. Follow these rules, and you’ll see a positive change in your life.

  • Don’t spend 10 – 14 hours at work. Doing over-time (even if you’re paid for it) will take you farther away from not only your dreams, but your life and family too.
  • Set your limits. Yes, you may be awesome at what your’re doing, but is it necessary to spend your time outside office, thinking of what you’ll be doing in office the next day? Once you step out of work, simply take a breather and think of something more valuable.
  • Take out time to pursue an activity you love. Be it reading, playing an instrument, dancing, singing, anything! Just take out 1 to 2 hours a day and really do it. Give time to yourself. No family issues at this time. No work issues. Just you and your love for art.
  • Stop feeling guilty. We’ve been born into an environment where we feel obliged to please people. If we don’t, we are considered selfish, self-obsessed and so on. Stop that. Stop that self-loathing thinking and screw the world. You deserve a, “me” time and if you can’t give that to yourself, it will be one of the biggest regrets you will ever have.

Trust me. These aren’t just fantasy words. This is a real practice, a non-compromise deal that I’ve applied in life and yes – people may dislike me for this, but at the end of it…who am I living for? People or myself?

Once you are clear on this choice, you can then move on.

Life is Not All About Enjoying or Living Selfishly Either 

At the other end of the line, there are a group of people who don’t give a damn to their loved ones or their jobs for that matter. It’s always about going out, spending money, having fun, because that is the way they can validate their existence. This is pretty much like the workholics above, the only difference is that of a boring life vs a very active life. So active, it starts giving you a bad bad headache.

While I’ve been an introvert most of my life, lately, I began craving to go out on almost every weekend, doing the same repetitive things. Eating out and shopping. Eating out and shopping. Eating out and shopping. Friends are too busy to meet up. We are all too busy and focused on our lives to do anything different.

Does that mean enjoying life and going out every now and then is wrong? No, definitely not. But to what an extent is it feasible? Is it also worth it? For me, I realized, sitting home on a weekends and simply doing nothing but household chores and going out for a walk is all I need to get myself energized for the next day. Some of the things I got to understand were:

  • Party Once in a While. You don’t really have to attend every party, every wedding, every concert there is. You need time to rest your mind and your body. You also need to work hard to earn so partying every weekend will leave your mind, body and wallets drained too. Then you’ll start whining over short of cash and you’ll start working late hours during the weekdays to cover up for that work on Monday you could not complete because of a bad hang-over. See the pattern here? Short solution. Go for parties or events only ONCE a month, instead of every week.Got nothing to do on weekends? Go for a movie. Head down to the beach. Arrange a family picnic. Or simply stay home and read a book. Women don’t have to shop every weekend and men don’t have to booze up with friends all the time. Choose for something more relaxing.
  • Spend Less, Earn More. The more you spend, the more you’ll find the need to earn and the more you find the need to earn, the more depressive life will seem. Every time I buy that designer dress, I’m wasting hours of my hard work for nothing substantial. Am I buying that dress just to wear for work the next day and impress my colleagues? Hah! Like as if their compliments really are true!! Spend less, save more and earn more. Don’t just think of yourself at the moment. If you’re single, you may be married soon. If you’re married, you need to think of your kids. Unless your responsibility is just to feed yourself, try being smarter in your finances.
  • Don’t Listen to Fantasy Advice if You Can’t Understand it. Don’t listen to fantasy advice by self-help writers and motivational speakers if you can’t relate it to your reality. The most common advice these people give is to, “dump everything and go out there and live your life.” I use to adore these guys because I thought they were brave and awesome. But now, as I mature, I realize, heck! they don’t live the life that we do! They don’t know our realities. They could do that only because they had no responsibilities. They just had to live for themselves. Yes, Bill Gates was a dropout but that was because he didn’t have to worry about his family. Yes, Paulo Coelho was a hippy and travels across the globe and that’s because all his money was spent just on himself. Unless, you don’t have a care-free, easy going life like that, running after these guys will just cause you more depression. That’s not to say you can’t live your dreams. You can if you know how to find a balance between work and dreams (refer to rules above).

Money Matters but Money Isn’t Worth Dying For 

I will not pass the funny statement of, “money doesn’t buy you everything.” It does actually. In this world, it does. But the point isn’t what money can buy – the point is, do you actually need everything? We earn all this money to buy luxury. Money is good only when it is used to fulfill life’s basic needs.

A house, a small car, good education for the kids, food three times a day and a retirement savings. Apart from this, luxury spending is just luxury. If you have to earn money to spend 100K on your child’s first birthday – cut it. if you have to earn to buy label clothes for regular use – cut it. All these things are not mandatory.

What’s mandatory is earning money and spending it on something valuable, something you really need. It’s not to say that you have to start being a miser and wear sub-standard clothes. Just decide before buying something – if that’s something you actually need. Like, I just realized I didn’t need a 42″” TV, but just because I found it good, I went ahead and bought it. Now, I rarely use it because we already have a family TV that we hardly spend an hour in watching.

At the end of it, I’ve understood, whether in material or in spirituality, in religion or in worldly affairs – finding that intricate line of balance is so important. But unfortunately, people always work in extreme. Even though the universe teaches us the unique art of balance day in and day out, we don’t understand it. Because as people we love defining and accepting things in extremes rather in moderation.

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