Is Your Work an Expression of Your Life?

When people introduce themselves to others, they often deal with the question “What do you do?” And they answer it by saying, “I’m a software developer” or “I’m a social media marketer” or “I’m a management trainer”.

But is that true?

Is what you do also what you are?

The same people just as easily talk about work-life balance, separating the their public career from their private life. This indicates that what people do (at work) is not the same as what they are (at home).

I think this is sad.

In a perfect life, what you do should be an expression of what you are.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because I don’t have a work-life balance. I don’t want to separate life from work. I prefer to live while I work, thank-you-very-much. My work should be an expression of my life.

If you separate work from life, you basically shorten your life span by 50%. Self-actualization has to happen in the remaining hours, away from work. Is that OK for you? Or would you like to double your life span?

I’m quite sure many of you prefer to do as you are.

That’s why I’m considering a new tag line:

Changing work into life.

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  • http://www.itsallaboutpeople.net Anderson Silva

    I agree 100% with you. Life and work should be a complement for each other. I usually see people walking in the opposite direction, trying to be different people in each situation. An angry boss in the job and a sweet person at home.
    I think everybody should be the same everywhere. I can’t trust people that have different personalities and several ways to treat others.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/andrejava Andre Java

    Great Jurgen.
    Thanks for expressing this thoughts.
    I just feel the same way…

  • http://pedrogustavotorres.com Pedro Gustavo Torres

    sounds great! 🙂

  • http://randomwalkdownearth.blogspot.com Simon

    Reminds me of quote that is associated with Confuzius: ”
    “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
    I share that impression regarding the introductory question of “What do you do?” – but generally try to avoid it. What does it actually tell you about a person that she is economist, dentist, or whatever?
    You learn much more about a person by asking things like “What are you passionate about?”.
    A while ago, I wrote a short essay on that topic on my blog: http://randomwalkdownearth.blogspot.com/2011/09/economist-dentist-computerist-essay-on.html

  • untoldex

    I think that almost everyone would like their work to be expression of their life, and a lot of people struggle to do so. But another problem here is that not everyone knows “who he is”. So first you need to figure out who you really are (and this can be really tricky!), and then take the next step to adjust your job to fit it.
    I guess it’s much easier to “live at work” for people who are self-employed, young start-ups, family business etc – they usually work all the time, think about work all the time, and at the end they don’t call it “work” – and are extremely happy about it.
    But what about people who work in formal organizations, where they don’t have so much impact to how things are organized and run? They have different kind of relation with the work, because they work for someone else for the wage – and it’s what might push them to separate work from the rest of the life.

  • Malte

    I agree that work should be life. But not all your life should be work! So maybe he word work-life-balance is misleading, but the concept is very relevant. How about work-leasure-balance?

  • toadi

    Well I can list lots of jobs where people are in just to earn money.
    Count yourself lucky you can do this through random luck in which country you are born and probably a lot of other factors.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    I think it’s quite obvious that my post is meant for people who already earn enough so they don’t have to worry about money, health, etc.
    See Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
    Yes, it is “lucky” to live in a place where such a situation is possible.

  • michiel

    Another thought
    Often when I’m in some social gathering I ask what people do,
    because I’m interested in what kind of work/profession they have.
    Most often I couldn’t care less about their life at home.
    You love unicycling, fishing, braiding. Sure, whatever..
    Most people don’t want to bore their friends with who or what inspired them.
    Unless it’s a funny or truly interesting story, I’m not sure you’ll be popular by
    giving with monologues about who you are..

  • http://profile.typepad.com/snscaimito Snscaimito

    That’s a bit like living someone else’s life.
    If my goals are not aligned with the goals of the group/organisation I work with, I should not give them access to the main part of the time I’m awake. Apply the law of two feet and walk away. Go somewhere where your goals and the goals of others are in alignment. That may make your contribution more effective and you will be happier.

  • Tom

    Im the opposite, the majority of people are not defined by their job/role, you can do great at work but have totally different hobbies, someone likes uncycling but its not really a great paying career, what if you also like to go on nice holidays that might be expensive. So a life choice here would be get a good job you enjoy (doesnt have to be a reflection of life, do unicycling as a hobbie, job pays well enough to go on nice holidays!)
    And I would say a persons hobbies are much more interesting as its what they CHOOSE to do when they dont have to be doing anything.

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