The Art of the Work Life Balance

If I hear one more person say that millennials are “lazy” or “entitled,” I’m going to explode like a shaken up can of Mountain Dew pitched full-force onto asphalt.

Just because we strive for a balance between work and life doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us smart people.

We live in an age, not like our parents’, where people without college degrees don’t get a single chance to succeed. There are no warehouse or manufacturing jobs left in America to feed the families of people who put in an honest day’s work but didn’t spend hundreds thousands of Sallie Mae’s dollars on a piece of collegiate paper.

Because of this fact, the rising costs of healthcare, and a lack of long-term investment by companies in their employees, it’s easy to get taken advantage of.

At every single job I’ve worked in my entire adult life, it is the people who are the most competent who get shit on the most. Much like the struggling middle class, they carry the burden of their condescending superiors and their overwhelmingly lazy subordinates.

It is the intelligent, strategic, hardworking, decent, driven, punctual, dependable people who are forced to endure the long hours and the lack of recognition.

I say it’s time to take a stand.

Always Do You

No matter what anyone says, you and your loved ones are the most important aspects of your life. It’s not the looming deadlines or the boss who takes 4 hour lunch breaks that will bring you happiness or success, it is you following your own path. Set your priorities first and foremost.

Plan trips, shake up your routine, spend time outside of work thinking about absolutely anything except work and don’t feel a single bit of guilt about it. Life is not work. Work is just a necessary part of achieving the life that you want.

If you’re not happy at your job, look for a new one. There’s no sense in resigning yourself to doing something you hate 5 days a week. There are other options.

Chase Excellence Instead of Perfection

We’re human beings and we make countless mistakes in our lives. You oversleep sometimes. You overeat sometimes. You over drink sometimes and end up falling asleep in a Lyft and forcing the driver to violently shake you awake at your destination. No one is perfect and no one should be.

Stop trying to be perfect. Perfectionism is dangerous and self-destructive. If you spend all of your time worrying about all the minute mistakes you may have made in your menial, stupid job, you’ll miss all the best parts of life. You’ll ignore the details. You’ll fall into a mire of depression and insecurity that you don’t deserve.

Fall asleep in that Lyft, take a deep breath, and tell the driver to go fuck himself when he wakes you up.

Instead, be excellent in everything you do. Put forth effort, but don’t drive yourself into madness for the approval and validation of coworkers. Do your job and do it well and make suggestions when they’re warranted, but stop beating yourself up.

Spend Some Time Away from the Computer

If you’re like me, you spend 8 hours a day behind a computer screen at work (well, 8 if you’re lucky) and it can be draining. Even though I love to write, the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is spend more time in front of the computer. Most of my writing is done in notebooks and then transcribed for that very reason. Sometimes I crave the organic touch of a pen and paper versus a blinking cursor in a Word document.

Instead, look away from your phone and email inbox for a few hours every day and enjoy something real and personal. Read a book huddled up in a chair. Sit on your back porch or patio with a huge mug of coffee and watch the birds fly around and the squirrels steal their food from the bird feeder.

Me, I love to cook. When I come home, the first thing I want to do is spend a good, methodical hour chopping vegetables, seasoning meat, and preparing a delicious dinner for myself and my friends and/or loved ones. It allows me to control what I’m eating, relax, exercise a little bit of creativity, and actually use the fucking groceries I just spent a hundred dollars on.

Whatever it is that makes you happy, focus on that once you’re free from the confines of your office or cab or construction site.

Focus on Mental and Physical Clarity

Whether you’re a squat junkie or someone who practices transcendental meditation, it’s best to work out the relationship between your mind and body in your free time.

The balance between exercise and mental health is well-known and, with the stresses of the day now behind you, it’s the perfect time to relieve your worries and settle into a candlelit bubble bath or an intense cardio session.

There’s no wrong way to improve your physical and mental well being, unless you’re one of those people eating pizza and sitting backward on the ab dipper at Planet Fitness, so choose what suits you best. Hike, meditate, lift, run, bike, or listen to ASMR on headphones and find your zen space.

Leave Work on Time

I can’t stand the notion that it’s only the people who stay late every day and work every weekend who are useful or successful in their careers. This is a commonly held misconception.

In reality, it’s the people who put in their full effort during the 8 hours they’re at their job, work harder, work smarter, and find efficient and new ways of doing things in a limited amount of time who are invaluable to the scaling needs of a business.

If you’re staying late just so your boss doesn’t look at you funny, then you’re doing it wrong. When you’re ready to leave and all your goals for the day have been taken care of, pack up your stuff and walk out the door.

You’re only setting a precedent of misery for yourself when you force yourself to begrudgingly stay past when you’re trying to get home and see your loved ones or experience all the other fun things in your life.

Don’t deprive yourself of a social life or time with people you care about because you’re afraid that you’ll be looked upon poorly. As long as you do your shit and don’t leave anyone hanging, leave when you’re supposed to.