Living Longer. Living Well—the tag line for our company. But what does that really mean? It means different things to different people. For my son, who is a law professor and published author (Joshblackman.com), living longer, living well means that he loves what he does with such intensity, he doesn’t consider it work. In fact, he once told me that he loves what he does so much, he feels guilty getting paid for it.
For the rest of us though, that may not be the case, and balancing work and leisure becomes a challenge. I have one client who recently told me that her “work was killing her.” My desire was to help her understand how quickly she could retire from her job and engage in life activities that bring her joy. Her homework assignment: write down what you love to do, and together we will make this happen.
Recently I read an article that intrigued me. The Financial Times interviewed Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world who claims that we’ve got it all wrong–Slim says we should be working only 3 days a week:
“It was time for a ‘radical overhaul’ of people’s working lives. Instead of being able to retire at 50 or 60, he says, we should work until we are older – but take more time off as we do so. ‘People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week – perhaps 11 hours a day,’ he told a business conference in Paraguay. ‘With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life. Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.’”
Four days off to rejuvenate. I like this idea. But is it feasible?
Just look around you. People are working more, not less. In my NY office I take a quick ride in the elevator from the 4th floor to the lobby. The ride can’t be more than 20-30 seconds. Still, when I look at my fellow passengers, most of them are firing off emails, text messages, surfing the web, having phone conversations. I can remember a time not too long ago when the elevator ride promoted a conversation with the person standing right next to you, or at least a “time out” from the office and from work. Now, due to our smart devices, we are always working. Always on.
Our physical, spiritual and financial health are delicately intertwined and all need to be nourished daily. But, this constant “time on” keeps us from properly resting our bodies, spending time with the people we love, and doing the things that we enjoy most.
It’s true that for most of us a 3 day work week, as Carlos Slim suggests, is not an option. But perhaps intentionally turning off our internet devices to enjoy a “time out” from work is a good place to start. At least once in a while.
What is it that we really want to give more time to anyway? Finding life/work balance may be the holy grail for many of us. After all, there aren’t too many people I know who, on their death bed, say they wish they worked more, unless of course you’re like my son.