According to a recent survey, half of working Americans do not take their full allocation of vacation time. Do you choose to travel from desk to desk or do you choose to travel the world? Are you a slave of your work or master of it? Would you rather share your employee of the month award or inspiring moments with your family, moments that no one of can get back?
I remembered as a child watching in horror as my parents’ generation worked punishing hours in their scramble for money, power and status. Then my generation grew up and still does the same. We like the idea of working to live. We admire the Aussie mindset of working to live and wish we could be like them…
So what stops us? Here are two possible reasons:
According to James Caan, CBE, and CEO at Hamilton Bradshaw Group, the economy is to blame. He wrote in his post, entitled: “Working to Live or Living to Work?” the recession has resulted in a workplace that is “now more competitive than it has ever been”. This, he says, means that we are all having to “go the extra mile” to prove our value to our organisations.
While technology has revolutionised the world, enabling us to work faster and more efficiently, it has come with some inevitable downsides. Our usage of email is a good example, as it is a tool that, for many, remains indispensable. Back in the day, email was seen as a privilege for the select few. Now, although it is still a permanent fixture in our lives, it’s increasingly seen as a nuisance, a productivity killer we’d mostly rather do without. And for some people, studies have shown that checking emails is not “a conscious and deliberate act” but a “compulsion.”
Email, like gambling, is subject to a phenomenon known as the “variable interval reinforcement schedule”, whereby you perform an action (putting a coin in the slot machine or checking your email) in the hope that a reward will ensue. The trouble is, the reward comes at unpredictable times, which causes you to repeat the action over and over again – just to get the reward: lots of money or a great email. According to Dr Tom Stafford, who describes this phenomenon in an article for the Guardian, variable interval reinforcement schedule is one of the most effective habit-training methods known to man.
Still, whatever the reasons for our living to work, rapper and poet Prince Ea has a message for us in this excellent video. Watch and enjoy – it will inspire you to change.
Do you think you live to work or work to live? Your thoughts and comments below please...