Do you work to live or live to work?
Posted on July 05 2021
I spent the first twenty years of my life in Europe , then backpacked the World for five and now I lived in America another twenty years.
I get asked so many times to compare life in Europe versus in America. In my experience the biggest difference is the quality of life. While in Europe we work to live in America I find so many people who live to work.
Growing up in Hungary I’ve got used to working (or going to school the early years) five days a week and enjoying the weekend. Our summer holidays were 2 1/2 months every year filled with programs.
The weekends and vacations were all about re-charging the batteries. I remember spending quality time with friends and family, visiting museums, theaters and soaking in one of our numerous natural hot baths.
I can honestly say that most people in America seem to me as they are workaholics.
Perhaps… it is just that life is so much more expensive in America?
My friends here (in the USA) tend to work 6-7 days a week and perhaps take two weeks of a year (if they even take their vacation time).
I have a friend in particular, who accumulated 100 vacation days (10 each year for the past ten years) and he is maxed out. So, even if he gets another 10 days this year, it can not be added to the max allowed (100) and he will never use them.
To me this seems crazy.
When I negotiate for jobs, my priority has been to include the option of time off. Even though I do not get paid when I do not work, living without a vacation to look forward to seems unbearably plain and like a rat race.
I know that we all need to make money in order to live in the civilized world. We have mortgages to pay, groceries, clothes, and gadgets to buy.
But, do we really need all that much stuff that we have accumulated?
My short answer is no. At least I don’t.
Living out of a backpack for many years thought me that investing in memories is way more precious treasure than knickknacks that just collect dust eventually.
A cheesy saying comes to my mind: Live your dreams, don’t dream your life!
Create the famous bucket list of that 50 things you want to do before you die!
Distill it down to a vision board and pick 5 realistic goals for the year!
Don’t overthink and overcomplicate it! Otherwise, you will never get started on it.
Let me give you five questions just to make it easy to create your own vision board for this year and get you off on the pursuit of your own happiness ;-)
- What is a local place that you would like to go to this year? It can be a farmers market, a tea ceremony, a theater play or a museum visit…
- What is one thing that you have never done before and you would like to try? Something that you are fascinated with… Maybe learn to play Backgammon, horseback archery, learn about energy healing crystals.
- Pick one book that everybody’s talking about it and looks interesting to you. Get it in a paper version, so you can enjoy it with coffee, or in a hot bath or maybe even read it on the beach.
- What far-away place is calling your name? A place where you really want to go and experience in person, not just through articles and documentaries that others captured. Go there, take your own photos and write your own story!
- What it is that you would like to do for the true joy of it? It can not be a chore, nor a job, not doing it for others but really for yourself. Something that feels good doing!?
Now, don’t just dream about these things but make them your reality.
We are our worst enemy when it comes to prioritizing our happiness. We find excuses such as I don’t have money, I don’t have time… Or simply we just think that we are the only ones who can do our jobs perfect, maybe even being afraid that we are replaced by the time we come back from vacation…
I have a theory ;-) unless you are a brain surgent, your job and chores can wait.
Take a break from your reality and responsibilities to recharge your batteries!
As you noticed it, I’m sending out the August practice 10 days early. The reason behind it is that I’m taking time off my work and going to spend a few weeks in Europe with my family and practicing the art of doing nothing.
I hope using the tools I prepared for you will encourage you as well to find joy and do something that makes you happy.