“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
And so the quote goes. Nice advice, I’ve always found. Life should have a balance to it. At least, that’s what I always took from the quote.
But I feel the quote is much mis-used. Especially when directed at the self-employed, or at someone in traditional employment who clearly has a love and passion for their work, for what they do.
It’s a quote I often hear when I’ve spent the week pretty much in solitude battling to get the latest manuscript turned in for edits, or knee-deep in revisions. “You want to be careful,” X person says. “You’re doing so much work that you’re forgetting about your life.”
In the early days, I found it strange. After all, what I’m doing — a career in writing — is something many people do in their spare time. Something many people do as a hobby. So, something they do in their… yes, you guessed it. Lives.
But now, I kind of shrug and smile as I think I understand the reasons this quote is so oft-used, and so badly interpreted.
Take myself for example. Cause why the hell not? I work full time as a writer. When I’m not writing, I’m doing business related writing tasks. Or I’m editing. Or I’m networking. I wake up at 8 in the morning and I finish at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. In the evening, I chill out, or see a friend, or go to a football match, or whatever. I don’t work weekends. I hang out with friends, family, etc.
So basically… I do the exact same thing someone in a “normal job” does. Only I do it in the comfort of my home. Or a cafe. Or a library.
Oh. And I happen to love what I’m doing.
So how the hell is that not “making a life”? How is chasing dreams, following passions, albeit in an unconventional approach, not living?
Another reason I find this quote is so often misused is because of the habits many of us self-employed freelancers form. I’m a single guy (that’s not a cry for attention, I swear). My bills aren’t sky high. I don’t spend a lot. I don’t see myself married or with kids in the next decade…
…And I’m completely okay with that. Means I get more time to spend with my passion. More time to spend living my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hermit. Many of us self-employed, work-from-home types are just as social as the rest of the world. I get ratty if I don’t do something social for a day or two. Just the nature of the game.
But that rattiness is a small price to pay to be able to do something I enjoy. Every day. In my room. Wearing noth… I jest. I wear something. Apologies in hindsight for the mental image that may or may not have formed in your mind just then, but definitely has formed right now.
The reason the “don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” quote is so often used–incorrectly, in my eyes?
Because there’s different lives to live. We all have different things that make us tick. We don’t all want to follow the same life path. We don’t all want to be carbon copies of one another. We don’t all have to fit into that narrow window of expectation.
So the next time somebody tells you “don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life,” think about what they’re saying at first. Do you need to get a life? Do you need to start doing more things that make you happy? Are you giving up on the things that make you tick at the expense of a job that you also enjoy? Then go find some balance.
If you’re already completely happy with your life–whether it’s happily married with kids, or single-as-hell and totally satisfied with your life, both from a work and a social perspective–then just brush off those comments. Because you are living your life.
You’re just not living the life the rest of the world wants you to live.
And usually, that’s a ridiculously good thing.
I work both sides of this. I have a day job, which brings in a steady salary, and my evenings (and sometimes weekends) are spent pursuing my passion of writing… both for clients and for myself.
Given the choice, I’d much rather do what you do and work full-time at writing, but financial commitments won’t allow that. Not yet, anyway.
IMHO the misused phrase, is aimed at people caught in the ‘work to live’ trap, where the best years of their lives is spent helping someone else grow rich, while the poor soul burns out trying to keep up repayments on their apartment, house, or means of transport (which is used mainly to get to work and make someone else richer etc.).