The Unhealthy Separation Between Work and Real Life

My wife and I homeschool our children (OK, I admit it: my wife does almost all of it).  A common question we are asked is, “But what about their social development?”  I often reply, “Just because public schools are a default, it does not make that social experience a prime, healthy choice.  In fact I believe there is too much social and it gets in the way of real learning.  Too often, the social experience at a school is unhealthy and it actually detracts from learning, growing and becoming.”   Yet it is considered normal and healthy.

In the same vien, I feel that now we have an unhealthy situation at work. It accept it as the default and we believe that it is “normal” and accept it as healthy without giving it any thought.

Our work life and real life are too separate.  Too many people hate what they do.  They only do it because they want a job.   Thus, they do anything to keep it separate from the rest of their lives (which they hope is better than work).

But there are those who absolutely LOVE what they do.  It is more likely that their work lives and personal lives are more connected.  They do what they do because of a passion, not because they have to have a job.

The current separation between work and real life has given us a sense that work is bad and personal recreation is good.  Thus a chasm is created.  We loathe taking work home.  We don’t want work to interfere with our families or our TV time.  The more we separate the two the easier it is to hate 10 hours of our 24 hour day.  How does that create a healthy life?

But let’s flip that around.  Let’s say you loved what you do.  You think about it in the “off hours.”  In fact, for you, there are no off hours because everything that you read leads back to this passion that you have.  And instead of separating your passion from your family, what if you brought them in and showed them?  What if they worked with you and learned how to cultivate a passion and work hard toward that passion?  They might see you succeed and fail and learn from you.  What if you helped them develop their own passion?

Your work would revolve around this passion and it would difficult not to think about it because of how much you love what you are doing.  Although I don’t know anything scientific about this, from my own observations those who love and are passionate about their work are more successful than those who “just have a job.”  They seem happier, more content and 10 hours a day concentrated on a passion doesn’t drain them, it energizes them.

Can this go to an unhealthy extreme?  You bet.  There needs to be a healthy balance.  And I believe we, as a whole, are too far on one of those unhealthy sides.

My quest for you: Find the healthy balance.  Find something you love to do so that at the end of the day you are excited to be home not because you are away from your work, but because you lived your passion.  It is sad when at retirement a person finally gets to do what they want to do.  Do it now!

(This post came as I contemplated a comment from a post last week.  I have to agree with the comment, but I feel that view comes from the perspective that I wish we could all change for ourselves. It isn’t just about getting you back to your desk so you can pound out more code.  It is about enabling a passion.  Because they know that  if you are focused on a passion you WANT to get back to work.  They want to make it easy for you to focus on your passion.  And when that happens, sometimes you need to work out in the middle of the day and take a break from a long period of creative creation.

And as an aside, thank you to everyone who comments.  I often learn so much from you and I consider your comments a gift.)