Updated: Sep 5
In this new era of work, you may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. You feel like you're caught in the middle between two competing forces.
You want to live life to the fullest, but you also need to make a living doing something that pays the bills. You don’t want to work so hard that your job takes you away from your personal life, yet at the same time, you don’t want to do a job that doesn’t fulfill you.
If you aren’t passionate about what you do for a living, are you finding it elsewhere or doing what you must?
So, how do you reconcile these two things? Should you live to work or work to live?
Keep reading to see what live to work or work to live means and how to find a balance between them.
Table of Contents
Do You Work To Live Or Live To Work?
Work To Live
Work to live is a lifestyle that involves working to obtain the resources you need to survive. You have to work so you can buy what you want/ need to have a comfortable life.
If you work to live, your work is more of a means to an end. It’s a way to earn money so that you can have the things that make your life worth living. You don’t feel compelled to do it; instead, you do it because of what you gain from it (monetary, material, evening meaning/ purpose).
Live To Work
At first, the phrase "live to work" might be confusing. But when you think about it, it can mean two different things.
1: Your work shapes your life, and everything else revolves around it.
Your work or career is more important than your personal life. If you are living to work, then your job is everything. You are obsessed with what you do for a living, whether that means working long hours or missing out on social occasions because they interfere with your work.
Your life revolves around work which is the most important aspect of your life at this moment. Typically you'd spend most of your time thinking about your career or how to advance in it.
This can adversely affect your mental health and personal relationships because they are neglected in favor of work/ career.
2: You love what you do, and there is no clear boundary between your work and life.
This can mean that your hobby is your work. Typically this means finding something you love to do and making money from it. You may even be willing to do it for free or have done for free in the past.
The lifestyle of a live-to-work person is all about doing what will support your career, business, or passion project, and hopefully you enjoy doing it! You are passionate about your career, and this passion drives you to become successful in that aspect of life.
Which is better?
The answer will depend on your perspective; it will always be subjective and will likely change throughout the course of your life. The truth is that both lifestyles work; the key is to figure out what works for you and apply it to your life.
Personally, I look for balance and believe that there is more to life than work –- enjoy your leisure time and make sure that your personal life is just as fulfilling as your professional one.
The key is to find the balance between work and play. If you love what you do, then there is no reason why you should stop doing it. However, how can you counteract that if you are forcing yourself into something that isn't your top choice?
So, how do you achieve this balance?
How to Find Balance Between Work And Life?
Know Your Priority
The first step is finding out what matters most to you. Know what you want, who you are, and your whys. This means establishing what your priorities are right now.
The key to finding balance here is not looking at it as 50 percent work, 50 percent life. It's about finding out what is important to you now versus what might be next month. Your balance today may lean heavily towards work. And in a month, maybe you skew a little bit more heavily towards life, family or friends.
The key is not to be rigid but rather to be flexible. The best way to do that is, to be honest with yourself. If it's important, make time for it. Don't feel bad about ignoring it if it's not a priority.
Never Compare Yourself to Others
It is very easy to compare yourself to others. Everyone has different challenges, priorities, abilities, responsibilities, and goals in their life. Creating a unique situation and incomparable to others.
For some reason, so many people get stuck in the comparison trap, especially when looking at the highlight reels of social media. This is a recipe for disaster! Social media is typically just the best days, pictures, and filters of someone's life.
So let me ask you a question — what would work-life balance look like for you if you hadn't seen your friends or family's pictures on Facebook or Instagram? If you sat down and connected to what you truly want and need right now?
Is the home edit style pantry a must right now, or will the extra hour of sleep be more beneficial?
You can't do everything for everyone. So defining what is important and setting boundaries are essential.
First, set boundaries with your work. Do you want to focus on your career? Or do you want more time at home with family and friends? If you set a clear boundary with yourself, others will also respect that. The key is communicating the boundaries you are setting and letting people in on your why.
Next, set boundaries with others in your life: family members, friends, colleagues (and even strangers). Tell people when you need to focus on work and when you are available to socialize. If a friend calls to chat about her problems, and you don't have the mental energy to support them. Let them know, “Hey I am not sure I can give you the support you need right now because I am dealing with a migraine, can I call you back when I am feeling better?” If your mother wants to call daily, let her know when your work hours are and ask if you can call her after work hours.
Make time for people who will make time for you—and learn how to say no. If you don't set boundaries, other people will set them for you. And they may not be the ones that you want.
Take Time Off
You don't have to work all the time. Take breaks from your job by doing something that interests you or spending quality time with people who are important to you. You may find it surprising how much your concentration levels switch when you give yourself mental breaks.
What to do next?
I hope these tips help you find some balance between work and life. The most important thing is to remember that you have a choice and reflect on what is the highest priority now.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
About the Author
Co-Author: Irish Doton
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!