Sunday, October 12, 2008

Work, More or Less

Recently, my friend suggested that I welcome prosperity into my life and start working less. I didn't get it. Work less? What about my bills? Am I supposed to proceed on the blind faith that my bills will be paid? What about getting something saved? What about improving my quality of life, even a little bit?

"Yes. Don't worry. Yes. Don't worry. Yes, work less," she answered.

I don't hear that answer often. It seems that everyone -my mom, teachers, boss, government - is telling me to work more. A recent article on burnout suggested that you may be burned out or on your way if you routinely work more than 40 hours a week. I work 50 hours most weeks and 60 several, but instead of comparing myself to those working that 40 hour week, I compare myself to those working 80-90 to put food on the table. Mom's arguments are particularly compelling - she worked overtime waiting tables to feed us kids and we never went hungry. It's a different time, though. I don't have kids and could probably benefit from a little hunger.

In this current climate of financial meltdown, I keep reading about retirees going back to work and baby boomers who are just going to have to work a little bit longer. My partner had planned on retiring at 55 and though I hoped he might work a little longer so we might retire together, I did not want it to be forced on him by the slow death of his 401(k). Why is the answer always "more work?" Or more specifically, why is the answer "more work at a job?" I like the idea of opas and abuelos working with the children, in the garden patch or at educating and guiding our young adults, but I think it's a special form of American cruelty that ties us for longer years to a desk, production line or fast food joint.

It's a depressing time, so perhaps watching some good videos like Obama's talks leadership or Be The Change is in order. And maybe, just maybe, I should try working less. After all, I've been working more for a long time and that's not getting me anywhere fast.

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