First off, thank you for your responses to our last edition of Outside the Box, the feedback that we received helped me see a reality that I largely ignored in that first article: everybody is different.
“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” -Heather Shuck
People are working longer hours, and getting more done, than ever before in the corrugated industry. It is always about getting more product out the door, finding a new way to increase efficiency and bring in more money for the company. What has not changed, however, is the value placed with this work, with wages largely stagnating and people having to strive harder to live a comfortable life.
I speak with countless people striving to discover the right balance for themselves. I make a point of getting to know all of my clients as well as I can, and try to help them figure out the optimum solution is for their problems. This process has made me see the erroneous assumption I made in the last volume of Outside the Box: not everyone has the same goals, or the same ideal balance between life and work:
Clothes Manufacturer Chooses Family
There are those who value their family and personal life above all else. One of these individuals was my father, who worked his tail off at Levi Strauss for many years, was smart with his money and was able to retire at the incredible age of 51.
30 years later and he’s still living large and enjoying every day of freedom and family.
Work Work Work
For some people, the idea of free time is terrifying. Having to find hobbies to fill the hours doesn’t sound enjoyable for these people and so they find immense comfort in the routine and grind of work.
I work with people every day that are working well into their late 60s and 70s, not because they have to, (though, there are certainly people that fit into that category these days too,) but because they want to. These individuals enjoy the routine of getting up and going to work to accomplish something. Idle hands are not friends to this type of individual.
Rising Through the Ranks
The final person that stands out in my mind is a young professional or even recent college graduate who works intensely long hours in order to “pay his dues.” The idea being that this young professional can put aside things like starting a family or building adult hobbies and relationships until later and totally focus on climbing the ladder now while they’re young and able.
In the last edition of Outside the Box, I mentioned offhandedly that everyone has a different balance, but then proceeded to tell you how to achieve the balance that is right for me, ignoring the fact that my work-life balance works for me, but sounds terrible to others.
The reality is that there is no right or wrong answer; everyone just needs to find the balance that serves them best.