1/2/14

I've been doing a fair bit of thinking about the idea of a "work/life balance", and it's a topic that I encounter more often on this board than just about anywhere else, so I thought it an appropriate forum for discussion.

When I was in college interviewing for the typical set of sought-after entry-level positions, it was often striking to me that the aspect that distinguished those who preferred consulting to IB purportedly wanted a better "work/life balance". Frequently, there was no more important distinction than that.

When I asked friends who went into consulting why they chose consulting, they often responded by saying, "I just don't think I could deal with working that many hours" (as if their career decision were a presupposed dichotomy between banking and consulting? - but that's another discussion). And that led me to believe that I most certainly would be dissatisfied with my "work/life balance" once I started full-time in IB.

And, sure enough, hours started pouring from the faucet of my office into the sink of my week just as promised. I had gone into the job with the preexisting belief that my work/life balanced sucked, and I should be upset/sad/angry about it. I chatted with my coworkers about it and occasionally mentioned it to my friends. I was the picture of a perfect post-undergrad IB analyst: disgruntled and passionately pursuing greener pastures.

Until, one week, I started to realize that I was neither dissatisfied about my work nor my life (whether that means I have a "work/life balance", I have no idea)...

And it wasn't long before I started to realize that my friends in more "traditional" jobs complained just as often about working too much as my friends in IB. I decided to stop contributing to discussions about being dissatisfied with how many hours I was putting in and instead just listened to what others had to say. I spent hours listening to my friend ranting about how unfair it was that he was being paid for 35 hours per week (40 hrs. minus 5 hrs for lunch breaks), despite the fact that he wasn't able to take a full hour off for lunch and was occasionally asked to stay until 6:00 PM. Meanwhile, other friends of mine working 80+ hours were thrilled with what they were doing (AND they were somehow managing to find the time to hang out with me). All said, I noticed very little correlation between the quantity of work and the amount of complaints about work. Everyone was looking for a better "work/life balance" in their next job, but when I asked, no one could put a finger on exactly what that entailed.

While I suspect that when most people long for "work/life balance", what they truly need is "work/life satisfaction", I understood that in everyday conversation, my friends were using "work/life balance" as a euphemism for "I would be happier, if only I worked fewer hours per week."

I think that this belief originates from a profoundly powerful, yet remarkable subtle metaphor that we employ in everyday language: time is money. It's one of the most frequent ways we communicate about time ("I spent an hour with her", or "Could you lend me a few minutes of your time?", or "I devoted my time to this cause", or "That awful movie cost me 2 hours of my life!"). But beneath the surface, it also implies two characteristics about our time: 1) our time is valuable and scarce, and 2) when we "spend" our time on something, we expect to receive value commensurate with the amount of time spent.

Troublingly, I think this leads an erroneous conclusion: if I spend more time doing something, I will enjoy it more. This is the premise that causes us to believe that obtaining more "free time" would make us happier.

After some thought, I have come to doubt the truth of this proposition, and I offer three examples of why I believe it to be untrue:

  1. I find that I enjoy personal and intimate relationships more when we spend less time together. This is the age-old problem with young love. Remember when your mother always told you that the reason you got in fights with your friends is because you were spending too much time with them? Though you probably doubted it at the time, I think we grow into the realization that time apart is a valuable piece of a relationship. More important than that, I think, is the scarcity of the time you spend together. When I spend a week boxed up in the office without being able to go out with friends, I often find that conversation is the most vibrant when we are reunited. We have a better time, there's more to catch up on, and a new face is a refreshing respite from our daily lives. On the contrary, on the few occasions in college when I found myself going out every night with similar groups of friends, I quickly tired of going out and received less enjoyment from interacting with these friends.
  2. Unemployed (even those with great personal wealth) people are among the least happy people I know. I once knew a guy that was in a serious relationship with a very successful significant other. He was in-between jobs when their relationship started, and when he realized that he could live more extravagantly than he had ever imagined without working a single hour, he decided to put more time between those jobs. What I witnessed was a powerful descent into stagnant unhappiness. He could, within reason, do whatever he wanted, yet he couldn't find anything that he wanted to do. Simply having all the free time in the world doesn't translate into happiness. It should come as no surprise, then, that wealthy entrepreneurs found charitable organizations or invest in new businesses to occupy their time. For most people, an occupation is a means to earn money, but even in the absence of that, it seems an occupation is also a shrewd motivator and a convenient way to put your time to good use.
  3. The more abundant a resource, the less wisely we spend it, and (especially in the 21st century) that has Snowball effects. I remember in middle school, whenever I got a video game, I would immediately use the internet to look up cheat codes to unlock every aspect of the game. It didn't take me long to realize that after I used the cheat code, the game almost instantaneously lost its fulfillment value. Similarly, when I think about weekends on which I had no work, I don't end up doing all that much more than on weekends where I spend half my time in the office. I'm more careless about how I allocate my time! I sleep in a bit later, I watch a bit more TV, read a few more books, spend a few more minutes on Facebook, and go out an hour or two later. Invariably, the more time I have on my hands, the more pointless endeavors I undertake. And the problem is, everything in the 21st century is specifically designed to be addictive. Whether it's cigarettes, television, soda, World of Warcraft, or Tumblr, businesses have become ever more successful in consuming ever increasing amounts of your time. And the one weekend where you find yourself bored enough to create a Tumblr account (no offense to those who Tumbl), the more time in subsequent weekends you will spend on Tumblr. Your unproductiveness snowballs, and that kills your motivation.

This realization has forced me to focus on three core parts of my life, things that I believe are worth putting out there on the off chance that you find them useful. It's the best and only advice I can give from this:

  1. Find two things that you honestly consider to be productive uses of your time and force yourself to spend time on them every weekend. I think that you'll find that, ironically, by reducing your "free time", you actually finish the weekend feeling better about what you've accomplished.
  2. Realize that there are very few things in life that you really don't have the time to do. When was the last time you told your coworkers you couldn't go out for a drink because you had a prior commitment or had to wake up early, only to head straight home because you were too lazy to go out? I'm not saying that's a bad choice! I'm just pointing out that even if you work 80 hours a week, you still have a great deal of time on your hands. It's all about priorities.
  3. If you're counting the number of hours you work in a week, chances are you're just distracting yourself from the real issues you have with your job. Stop thinking about "work/life balance". Having more "free time" won't make you happy. Having a job to which you want to contribute and a life that you're enjoying every minute of will.

I'll leave you with a quote that I love from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Speaking to a group to hopeful tech entrepreneurs, Vaynerchuk was asked, "How you get money to do what you love?" He answered:

"You don't. If you want to work on something you love, you know what you have to do? Honestly? You have to work after hours. If you work 9-6, get home, kiss the dog, and go to town. STOP WATCHING F*****G LOST!"

I think we would all benefit from killing less of our free time.

---

I'd love to hear anyone else's take on this.

Comments (140)

Best Response
2/1/13

You make some good points. Limiting time with loved ones can make every time you are together special. I am in a long distance relationship and see my GF every other weekend. Time with her is a scare resource, so I cherish the few days a month I see her.

You also highlight the diminishing returns associated with leisure activities. Continuing the long distance relationship example, the infrequent visits lead to a significant amount of playing with my meat sword. There's no better way to wake up on a Saturday than jerkin' the gherkin. Eat some breakfast, then again, time to paint the ceiling. That second time is refreshing, but my returns are quite literally diminished. By my eighth round before bed, I'm sore and exhausted. Too much of anything is a bad thing. I believe this also applies to work though.

I will spare you another masturbation euphemism and say, from an ex-IB analyst one half year removed: you may be way too deep in the shit to see how bad it is. Maybe you truly love committing 80+ hours a week to ripping out comps, squinting at hand-written comments in attempt to ascertain what your fuck-wit VP scribbled out and modeling asinine zero-probability M&A scenarios. I didn't, especially at the expense of my health and flexibility of schedule. All I did in banking was work and for that I was a less interesting person. With my additional time I have pursued new sports, started a non-profit, actively managed my PA and traveled the world. I am more focused and effective while on the job because I want to knock out my work and leave to do non-work related activities. I also have more to talk about with co-workers and can relate to more people.

All of your examples are extremes that violate the premise of a work/life balance rather than demonstrate how a balance is bad. Each example you provide is unfulfilling: Unemployment (zero work), codes in a video game (invincibility, unlimited ammo) and IB (little to no leisure). I believe you maximize your utility with a balanced bundle of work and leisure.

With all of this said, I do not regret my two years as an analyst. I paid my dues and earned the right to work less and make more. I would never describe the lifestyle as healthy or ideal though.

The WSO Advantage - Investment Banking

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation +

IB Interview Prep Pack

30,000+ sold & REAL questions.

Resume Help from Actual IB Pros

Land More IB Interviews.

Find Your Perfect IB Mentor

Realistic IB Mock Interviews.

1/31/13
1/31/13

i have thought about this before this issue before. I really think you hit the nail on the head. Great work, this was very well written.

1/31/13

I find that I enjoy personal and intimate relationships more when we spend less time together.

I agree, great point. It's always more fun to catch up with people you haven't seen in a long time.

2/1/13

All good points. I think this is a must read for most undergrads pursuing some prestigious (or any) entry-level role.

"Do not go gentle into that good night"

2/1/13

For me it's more about health: how many hours you can work while sustaining for longer terms.

2/1/13

Beautiful post. I was wondering the same thing. I used to be in M&A and I never had a problem working 70 hours a week. Its only when it gets to the 80+ range and of course the occasional 100 hour week did it really get to me since by then sleep gets affected. (Most people average between 6-7 hours of sleep anyway regardless of whether they are bankers or not.)

I am now on the buy side and work about 50-60 hours and honestly some weekdays I have no clue what to do post 8 PM (this is after an hour of gym) not to mention Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I am past the phase when it was cool to drink every night (boring and clearly unhealthy). So now I am on the quest to discover my next productive activity (maybe a book or a charity or some online start up). But yeah work life balance isn't the challenge as much as work life satisfaction is!

In reply to Gatsby17
2/1/13

Gatsby17:
You make some good points. Limiting time with loved ones can make every time you are together special. I am in a long distance relationship and see my GF every other weekend. Time with her is a scare resource, so I cherish the few days a month I see her.

You also highlight the diminishing returns associated with leisure activities. Continuing the long distance relationship example, the infrequent visits lead to a significant amount of playing with my meat sword. There's no better way to wake up on a Saturday than jerkin' the gherkin. Eat some breakfast, then again, time to paint the ceiling. That second time is refreshing, but my returns are quite literally diminished. By my eighth round before bed, I'm sore and exhausted. Too much of anything is a bad thing. I believe this also applies to work though.

I will spare you another masturbation euphemism and say, from an ex-IB analyst one half year removed: you may be way too deep in the shit to see how bad it is. Maybe you truly love committing 80+ hours a week to ripping out comps, squinting at hand-written comments in attempt to ascertain what your fuck-wit VP scribbled out and modeling asinine zero-probability M&A scenarios. I didn't, especially at the expense of my health and flexibility of schedule. All I did in banking was work and for that I was a less interesting person. With my additional time I have pursued new sports, started a non-profit, actively managed my PA and traveled the world. I am more focused and effective while on the job because I want to knock out my work and leave to do non-work related activities. I also have more to talk about with co-workers and can relate to more people.

All of your examples are extremes that violate the premise of a work/life balance rather than demonstrate how a balance is bad. Each example you provide is unfulfilling: Unemployment (zero work), codes in a video game (invincibility, unlimited ammo) and IB (little to no leisure). I believe you maximize your utility with a balanced bundle of work and leisure.

With all of this said, I do not regret my two years as an analyst. I paid my dues and earned the right to work less and make more. I would never describe the lifestyle as healthy or ideal though.

Absent the euphemisms, I'd say you're actually making my point.

Sounds like your years in IB were less "balanced" than the majority of analysts I know, but wouldn't you attribute any of the splendor of your "free time" today to its scarcity during your banking years? You say you have a lot of additional time, but it doesn't sound that way to me. Between playing new sports, running a non-profit, managing a personal account, and traveling the world - certainly that must cut down on the amount of "free time" that you have. Compare that to my friend, who works 40 hours per week (35 per his paycheck), has plenty of money, but spends his time curled up on the couch most days watching Netflix, meanwhile complaining about how "much he works". Certainly he has more of what the average person would call a "work/life balance" than a PE associate, yet I wouldn't say his life is "balanced" at all. By no means am I saying that the workload of an IB analyst is the ideal mix, but I know plenty of people that get more value out of the 30 hours of weekly "free time" than others do out of 70.

I don't think I'm making an argument at the extremes. I use the extremes to demonstrate the invalidity of the principle that "more free time will make me happier", while relying on my personal experience with those who have the American Dream of "work/life balance" to argue that no such balance exists.

Perhaps what I'm trying to say is it's not about balancing (which suggests leveling out the quantity of work and life) but rather about blending. Many Americans call working at a non-profit an occupation (or just plain "work"), yet you've implied that it's a beneficial way you've allocated your free time.

I'd say that you have satisfaction with both your life and your work, despite the fact that you have a work profile that would scare the living daylights out of the 40-hour work week.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to randomguy
2/1/13

randomguy:
Beautiful post. I was wondering the same thing. I used to be in M&A and I never had a problem working 70 hours a week. Its only when it gets to the 80+ range and of course the occasional 100 hour week did it really get to me since by then sleep gets affected. (Most people average between 6-7 hours of sleep anyway regardless of whether they are bankers or not.)

I am now on the buy side and work about 50-60 hours and honestly some weekdays I have no clue what to do post 8 PM (this is after an hour of gym) not to mention Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I am past the phase when it was cool to drink every night (boring and clearly unhealthy). So now I am on the quest to discover my next productive activity (maybe a book or a charity or some online start up). But yeah work life balance isn't the challenge as much as work life satisfaction is!

Great input, I think we're on the same page. I appreciate hearing you perspective. Glad I'm not the only one trying to muster up something to do when I have some unexpected free time.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/1/13

I loved this, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

2/1/13

Thought this was going to be just another rant...really good post though, enjoyed reading it. You get my last SB.

2/1/13

Stockholm syndrome at it's finest.

2/1/13

Great post. Oreos made a similar comment a few days back and the premise was that basically work is PART of your life so you can't really define anything as a work/life balance.

My view is that lets say for example you work until 9pm and get home at 9:30, bed at 12. That gives you 2.5 hours a day of personal time which you will probably really make the most of (significant other, catching up with friends, etc.). Compare this to the person who gets home at 6 every day, watches about 3-4 hours of TV and spends the rest of it trawling the internet. They have more personal time but is it really more fulfilling? I think not.

2/1/13

I really enjoy my job, it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction, I learn a lot and I earn good money (particularly compared to the vast majority of my friends).

That being said, I work to live not live to work. I enjoy my time outside the office more than my time at the office and I dont believe that spending more time in the office would reverse this trend.

2/1/13

Seriously well said. Have one of my scarce SB's

2/1/13

I can't remember where I read this but I recall some HF manager once saying: "We'd all be happier if we had a little less time and a little more money."

2/1/13

Your perspective will change when you have kids.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

2/1/13

Very well said, OP. At the risk of sounding (yet again) like some old fart, I've always interpreted "work/life balance" as "work/family balance." Or more specifically, "work/doing chores and driving the kids around balance," which, let's face it, is just "work I get paid for/work I don't get paid for balance." As you noted:

NorthSider:
those who preferred consulting to IB purportedly wanted a better "work/life balance".

Is complete nonsense. A 22 year old with no real responsibilities doesn't need "balance" between working and not working. Nobody on the planet needs those extra 15-30 (or 40-50) hours to devote to bar hopping, facebook, and The Bachelor. Some may even go so far as to call those activities "a waste of time" which, suggests that what they really want is, "time well spent/time wasted balance."

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

In reply to SirTradesaLot
2/1/13

SirTradesaLot:
Your perspective will change when you have kids.

That was exactly what popped into my head after reading the original post - which was very well written.

I've always thought that there is a certain period of my life - call it my 20s as a proxy - that the work / life balance equation is skewed in your favor. It is during this time that you have the ability to put in the long hours to get up the learning curve, build a reputation, try different jobs, etc. assuming you actually derive utility from these activities. At a certain point though you're no longer replacing "sitting on the couch drinking beer" with work [not the biggest tradeoff] but rather are replacing "spending time with your young kids", "getting in quality time with aging parents", etc.

Summary: I agree with the OP in the short term.

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

First of all, great thread. OP is making some good points, but all in all, he's lacking the true conclusion.

There are too very good answers within this thread...

Gatsby17:
I didn't, especially at the expense of my health and flexibility of schedule.

...Gatsby argued that the OP is using too much extremes. Absolutelty right! On the hand OP uses his college time with lots of free time, on the other hand working as analyst in IBD with very few free time. This is not a basis for good argumentation!
And: He takes work-life-balance to a new level. He considers health (especially long term health) and FLEXIBILITY. In other words freedom to do what you want to do!

cibo:
Stockholm syndrome at it's finest.

...perhaps OP has become unable to see the merits of more free time! This is stressed by one of his answers:

NorthSider:
say you have a lot of additional time, but it doesn't sound that way to me. Between playing new sports, running a non-profit, managing a personal account, and traveling the world - certainly that must cut down on the amount of "free time" that you have.

OP doesn't even realize that there is a massive difference between using your free time to do work which you have to do (your job/working in IBD) and using your free time to work on projects which you chose yourself, e. g. doing sports, traveling etc.!
Here, he interprets free time with "hanging around", wasting your hours with senseless/useless stuff! But the true interpretation of FREE TIME is FREEDOM to do what you want to do - if this is just relaxing or spending your time on really serious projects doesn't matter. Freedom is key! (Gatsby used the word "flexibility", which is just a result of true freedom)

IMO, our obesession with work-life-balance shows our need for freedom, our need to live the lifes we wan't to live. When working, we aren't free: We have to do things which other people want us to do. We can't leave work when we want. We can't realize our own ideas. Even MDs aren't free, they are controlled by customers' needs. We are "modern slaves".

This doesn't mean that you don't enjoy your job. I enjoy my work as well and work around 60hrs/week. But there's a limit: At some point both my rationale and my heart say: "It's time to start following your own needs and ideas. Stop following the orders of other people. Do what YOU want." Working 80hrs+ and being the slave of your blackberry, always being ready to head into the office if your MD is calling...makes me feeling dissatisfied. This is my life, not the MD's life, not the firms life. It's MY life!
The feeling of true freedom is one of the best things in life! Spend time with your family/kids, relax, do sports, hang out with your friends...just do what YOU want - whatever it is!

Now, some people need more freedom than others (e. g. some people don't have problems working 80hrs+ while others will be satisfied working more than 40hrs). Other people start realizing their need for freedom later than others. But in the end, you won't be happy living a life which was mostly controlled by other people.

This interpretation of work-life-balance "accepts" working in IBD for some years to get the freedom you need later on, e. g. having enough money to do what you want. I don't want to judge about anyone working these insane hours - but at some point, everbody will realize that there is a need to be free.

There will be the one point in life when you're going to face death...until that point everbody should have used his (finally) limited freedom.

"The banker's greatest enemies are those people whose souls are not for sale, and those who realize that time is a nonrenewable commodity." (Monkey Business)

2/1/13

excellent advice for new post-grads. As you get older, you will find your priorities will shift even further. As someone that works in trading and is also a father to two young sons in elementary school, i realize the best allocation of my time where possible is to help raise them into outstanding young men - being there for them is much more important than working the hours to get into the C suite. In the end, you can't take any of this shit with you and you will be remembered for what you did for your family and others rather than the size of your bank account.

2/1/13

Good stuff.

Life is going to suck. I just want to make sure it won't suck too much.

"Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin

2/1/13

Good post, but if you have a healthy attitude and perspective, a shift to a job with more reasonable hours really is pretty excellent. I recently switched to a more consistent 9-5 sort of job, and I've got to say it's made me much happier.

2/1/13

God this is like watching a pileup in slow motion. Everyone just pouring in with their "Hey, great piece" and "Couldn't have said it better myself!". You are delusional if you think that work-life-balance doesn't mean anything and that somehow working 80 hours per week makes you happier because you have less time to "waste".

I can't tell if you are all trying to rationalize your current roles, want to believe that your hopes and dreams of working in these groups are not nightmares, or if you just read a well-written note and agree without thinking. Either way, take a step back and literally f*%k yourselves.

2/1/13

This is incredibly insightful, amazing post.

My drinkin' problem left today, she packed up all her bags and walked away.

In reply to SirTradesaLot
2/1/13

SirTradesaLot:
Your perspective will change when you have kids.

Maybe that's why I don't plan on having any. I may not have the most free time at the moment, but I am incredibly satisfied with both my career and my life. I spend a great deal of time with my friends, have had time to take a vacation, and have been more productive with my limited free time than I ever was with unlimited quantities of it.

I don't think that having kids would make me any happier.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

NorthSider:
SirTradesaLot:
Your perspective will change when you have kids.

Maybe that's why I don't plan on having any. I may not have the most free time at the moment, but I am incredibly satisfied with both my career and my life. I spend a great deal of time with my friends, have had time to take a vacation, and have been more productive with my limited free time than I ever was with unlimited quantities of it.

I don't think that having kids would make me any happier.

Whether you decide on children or not is completely up to you, but they will represent a change in perspective from what you've outlined in your post. I completely agree with your points from the perspective of a young, single person, but many points you make, while 100% accurate for many, are no longer applicable when you have kids. For instance:

NorthSider:
Troublingly, I think this leads an erroneous conclusion: if I spend more time doing something, I will enjoy it more. This is the premise that causes us to believe that obtaining more "free time" would make us happier.

Does not hold up in regards to spending time with children. The more time you spend with them, the more you enjoy it. Additionally:

NorthSider:
I find that I enjoy personal and intimate relationships more when we spend less time together.

Will also fail to hold up when you have kids. In particular, spending less time with children doesn't make the time together better, it makes it substantially worse.

Obviously, having kids, or not having kids is ultimately up to you, and certainly, if you choose not to that doesn't suggest your life will have more or less meaning that someone who does. But, what I am saying, is that if the time comes and you decide to make that choice, then your perspective will absolutely change, even though for now, you're absolutely, 100% correct in how you're interpreting the question of work/life balance.

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

NorthSider:
SirTradesaLot:
Your perspective will change when you have kids.

Maybe that's why I don't plan on having any. I may not have the most free time at the moment, but I am incredibly satisfied with both my career and my life. I spend a great deal of time with my friends, have had time to take a vacation, and have been more productive with my limited free time than I ever was with unlimited quantities of it.

I don't think that having kids would make me any happier.


You will be surprised how your view on life changes. Trust me, when you're 35 looking back at when you were 25, you will think you were pretty naive at the time. I'm sure when I'm 50, I will think I was pretty naive at 35. I would actually take a bet that you do have kids at some point, but even if you don't, you will most likely face aging and ailing parents (or other family members) and you will be pretty pissed off that thy're dying and you're stuck in a cubicle running TPS reports. You certainly won't feel so great knowing that time away makes the time you have more special when your loved ones are dying.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

2/1/13

I agree with 1337. Much like the 'why MBA' post by compbanker, this is another long winded post rationalizing your personal decision. However, in compbanker's post, he still had good points, and rational people could disagree. THIS post doesn't make much sense.

Your unemployed friend didn't do anything with his free time? No shit he wasn't happy. Vaynerchuk said take up your passion after work and don't watch TV? When the crap do you have even one day to drop your work and go home by six?

I am all for the philosophical discussions of how to spend one's time, but the evidence and conclusion is lacking here.

In reply to 1337
2/1/13

1337:
God this is like watching a pileup in slow motion. Everyone just pouring in with their "Hey, great piece" and "Couldn't have said it better myself!". You are delusional if you think that work-life-balance doesn't mean anything and that somehow working 80 hours per week makes you happier because you have less time to "waste".

I can't tell if you are all trying to rationalize your current roles, want to believe that your hopes and dreams of working in these groups are not nightmares, or if you just read a well-written note and agree without thinking. Either way, take a step back and literally f*%k yourselves.

THIS!

I'm exaggerating, but it's like a priest of a sect stating something which is (pretty) obvious untrue/nonsense - nevertheless, everybody is following (= throwing with silver bananas).
OP does nothing but to state that the obviously most sucking part of a job in IBD - the hours - are the best thing which could ever happen. I really don't get that. But of course, if you are going to work these insane hours (or are already working), this post from OP is balm for the soul - pretty human reaction!

Of course, there are some true words (e. g. too much free time isn't the key for hapiness either), but this way of thinking can just come from a 22 year old - no offense, but you will realize how wrong OP is in some years. Experience will change your attitude! ;-)

"The banker's greatest enemies are those people whose souls are not for sale, and those who realize that time is a nonrenewable commodity." (Monkey Business)

2/1/13

NorthSider:
  1. I find that I enjoy personal and intimate relationships more when we spend less time together. This is the age-old problem with young love. Remember when your mother always told you that the reason you got in fights with your friends is because you were spending too much time with them? Though you probably doubted it at the time, I think we grow into the realization that time apart is a valuable piece of a relationship. More important than that, I think, is the scarcity of the time you spend together. When I spend a week boxed up in the office without being able to go out with friends, I often find that conversation is the most vibrant when we are reunited. We have a better time, there's more to catch up on, and a new face is a refreshing respite from our daily lives. On the contrary, on the few occasions in college when I found myself going out every night with similar groups of friends, I quickly tired of going out and received less enjoyment from interacting with these friends.
  2. Unemployed (even those with great personal wealth) people are among the least happy people I know. I once knew a guy that was in a serious relationship with a very successful significant other. He was in-between jobs when their relationship started, and when he realized that he could live more extravagantly than he had ever imagined without working a single hour, he decided to put more time between those jobs. What I witnessed was a powerful descent into stagnant unhappiness. He could, within reason, do whatever he wanted, yet he couldn't find anything that he wanted to do. Simply having all the free time in the world doesn't translate into happiness. It should come as no surprise, then, that wealthy entrepreneurs found charitable organizations or invest in new businesses to occupy their time. For most people, an occupation is a means to earn money, but even in the absence of that, it seems an occupation is also a shrewd motivator and a convenient way to put your time to good use.
  3. The more abundant a resource, the less wisely we spend it, and (especially in the 21st century) that has snowball effects. I remember in middle school, whenever I got a video game, I would immediately use the internet to look up cheat codes to unlock every aspect of the game. It didn't take me long to realize that after I used the cheat code, the game almost instantaneously lost its fulfillment value. Similarly, when I think about weekends on which I had no work, I don't end up doing all that much more than on weekends where I spend half my time in the office. I'm more careless about how I allocate my time! I sleep in a bit later, I watch a bit more TV, read a few more books, spend a few more minutes on Facebook, and go out an hour or two later. Invariably, the more time I have on my hands, the more pointless endeavors I undertake. And the problem is, everything in the 21st century is specifically designed to be addictive. Whether it's cigarettes, television, soda, World of Warcraft, or Tumblr, businesses have become ever more successful in consuming ever increasing amounts of your time. And the one weekend where you find yourself bored enough to create a Tumblr account (no offense to those who Tumbl), the more time in subsequent weekends you will spend on Tumblr. Your unproductiveness snowballs, and that kills your motivation.

This realization has forced me to focus on three core parts of my life, things that I believe are worth putting out there on the off chance that you find them useful. It's the best and only advice I can give from this:

  1. Find two things that you honestly consider to be productive uses of your time and force yourself to spend time on them every weekend. I think that you'll find that, ironically, by reducing your "free time", you actually finish the weekend feeling better about what you've accomplished.
  2. Realize that there are very few things in life that you really don't have the time to do. When was the last time you told your coworkers you couldn't go out for a drink because you had a prior commitment or had to wake up early, only to head straight home because you were too lazy to go out? I'm not saying that's a bad choice! I'm just pointing out that even if you work 80 hours a week, you still have a great deal of time on your hands. It's all about priorities.
  3. If you're counting the number of hours you work in a week, chances are you're just distracting yourself from the real issues you have with your job. Stop thinking about "work/life balance". Having more "free time" won't make you happy. Having a job to which you want to contribute and a life that you're enjoying every minute of will.

---

I'd love to hear anyone else's take on this.

I disagree with much of this post. It is very subjective and seems like a way to rationalize 90 hour work weeks as being a work/life balance. I know plenty of people, including myself, who wake up every morning with their signficant other and are happier for it. I would not be happier if I saw her once a week instead, I would merely have a greater surge of happiness at that moment, but overall happiness would be reduced.

Second, unemployed rich people or retired can be extremely happy or they cannot be, I can name plenty examples of this. My mother quit/retired from her job and hasn't bothered finding a job for a while, she gets the opportunity to go to my younger sisters' sports games, school events and cherises the time she has as "free time". Just because you know someone that couldn't figure out a way to utilize their time efficiently, does not mean people are more happy working than not working. My girlfriend's grandfather is retired after 40 years as a doctor and absolutely loves it. He uses his time to travel a lot, golf a lot, fish a lot, kiyak etc. Once again, he is utilizing his free time to enjoy himself. You said, an occupation is a convient way to put your time to good use. That depends on the person, and if that person has no desires or passions in life of course they be better suited working than sitting on their ass figuring out how to enjoy their freedom.

In terms of spending your resources, whether that be time or money, is also extremely subjective. How many news stories have occured where that lottery winner you heard about, goes broke because they didn't know how to handle having it all? Then when you go on to explain how the more free time you have, you partake in pointless endeavours. Maybe thats having a lack of self-control? I know plenty of people who utilize their free time to build relationships with people, learn languages, cooking classes, fitness etc. I would argue these are not pointless endeavours. On top of this, one could argue what you categorize as pointless endeavours are more meaningful to others. Reading a book, watching a movie, sleeping in are not always pointless endeavours, and some people may cherish this time to relax and do nothing. It does not necessarily mean they spent their time wisely or not.

As I already briefly indicated, many of these points represent someone who has a lack of self control or meaning in their life. You confirm this by going on to say, "Find two things that you honestly consider to be productive uses of your time and force yourself to spend time on them every weekend". If you are happy getting home from work and hanging out on the couch snacking and watching TV, there is nothing wrong with that. You are using your time to just sit back and take a breather. Not arguing by any means, just playing on the other side here.

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

In reply to Rudi Carell
2/1/13

Rudi Carell:
OP doesn't even realize that there is a massive difference between using your free time to do work which you have to do (your job/working in IBD) and using your free time to work on projects which you chose yourself, e. g. doing sports, traveling etc.!

First off, I appreciate the perspective and it's refreshing sometimes to hear someone say, "You know what? I think you're totally off-base."

That said, I think you're painting me a bit too naively here.

You say there's a difference between what you "have" to do and that which you "choose" to do, but what is really the distinction here? No one is forced to continue in their current occupation. You do choose to work and your work is a project that you chose yourself. Just because it also confers monetary remuneration doesn't make it subordinate to the other choices that you make in life.

My point is that I believe Gatsby isn't happy because he has a great quantity of free time, but instead because he has occupied that free time in a way that satisfies him. This absolutely includes your job! I doubt very much that Gatsby would be as satisfied with everything if he hated every minute of his job. Likewise, I doubt that he would be very satisfied if he loved every minute he spent in the office and dreaded returning home every day. Even the most optimal "balance" of the two isn't necessarily going to make anyone happy.

I think you're missing my bottom line: we talk about "work/life balance" as if merely aligning the quantity of work and play you have in every week is the key to satisfaction. I try to draw attention to this by talking about the metaphor of "time as money", money which we invest in the expectation of high returns. My argument is purely that this philosophy that it is a myth that people who work a lot are sure to be less happy that those who have a "work/life balance" and have plenty of time to themselves. In my experience, happiness has almost zero correlation to the number of hours you're paid to work per week.

Here, he interprets free time with "hanging around", wasting your hours with senseless/useless stuff! But the true interpretation of FREE TIME is FREEDOM to do what you want to do - if this is just relaxing or spending your time on really serious projects doesn't matter. Freedom is key! (Gatsby used the word "flexibility", which is just a result of true freedom)

I think we just disagree here. I know people with boundless freedom and wealth that are utterly unhappy. Freedom is great, but above a certain threshold, it doesn't really mean that much in terms of happiness. Suicide rates in developed countries are remarkably high, and often even higher than rates in developing countries with both less freedom and less prosperity.

IMO, our obesession with work-life-balance shows our need for freedom, our need to live the lifes we wan't to live. When working, we aren't free: We have to do things which other people want us to do. We can't leave work when we want. We can't realize our own ideas. Even MDs aren't free, they are controlled by customers' needs. We are "modern slaves".

I think this is just a bit idealistic. "Need to live the lives we want to live" - what does that even mean? How many people, even those with globs of "free time", do you know that "live the life they want to live"? Also, I think calling a Managing Director in investment banking a "slave" is an insult to the meaning of the word "slave".

This doesn't mean that you don't enjoy your job. I enjoy my work as well and work around 60hrs/week. But there's a limit: At some point both my rationale and my heart say: "It's time to start following your own needs and ideas. Stop following the orders of other people. Do what YOU want." Working 80hrs+ and being the slave of your blackberry, always being ready to head into the office if your MD is calling...makes me feeling dissatisfied. This is my life, not the MD's life, not the firms life. It's MY life!

Interesting that you exert so much freedom around something (a job) that you say you "have to do".

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to Rudi Carell
2/1/13

Rudi Carell:
OP does nothing but to state that the obviously most sucking part of a job in IBD - the hours - are the best thing which could ever happen.

I don't believe you're making a good faith effort to represent my post if you think this is the argument I'm making.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to cibo
2/1/13

cibo:
Stockholm syndrome at it's finest.

Mixed with huge doses of narcissism + greed.

Still, interesting read, there's a lot of insight into this.

Get busy living

In reply to mikesswimn
2/1/13

mikesswimn:
Whether you decide on children or not is completely up to you, but they will represent a change in perspective from what you've outlined in your post. I completely agree with your points from the perspective of a young, single person, but many points you make, while 100% accurate for many, are no longer applicable when you have kids.

While I think it's fantastic that you have such a fruitful and positive relationship with your children (much as I do with my parents), I fundamentally disagree here. For every few people that I know that love every minute they get with their children, I know a few others whose children almost undoubtedly made their life less joyful.

I realize that's a very unpopular perspective, for which I will likely be derided in subsequent comments, but I don't believe my mind will be changed on this matter. I don't buy into the idea that children necessarily make people happier or make them rethink life in a more positive light. In fact, a great deal of psychological literature I've read on the matter suggests that children often reduce people's happiness when studied longitudinally.

Does not hold up in regards to spending time with children. The more time you spend with them, the more you enjoy it.

I can't even count the number of times that my parents arranged time to spend away from us children when I was growing up for the sake of their sanity. And I don't blame them for it!

Will also fail to hold up when you have kids. In particular, spending less time with children doesn't make the time together better, it makes it substantially worse.

I disagree. My father was a consultant, and consequently he spent a great deal of time out-of-town. When he came home on the weekends, he would always be incredibly excited to see everyone. And though he often made statements like "I wish I got to spend more time with you guys", I often question whether that would have made things any better. I have a phenomenal relationship with my father, and I admire his accomplishments in many ways. Who's to say that our relationship would have been better or worse had we only spent more time together when I was growing up?

---

Also, I find it very illuminating that the argument for needing more "free time" is being centered around having children, which is undoubtedly the greatest expenditure of "free time" that exists. Isn't this an argument in favor of having less free time and instead committing it to the development of a child?

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to SirTradesaLot
2/1/13

SirTradesaLot:
...but even if you don't, you will most likely face aging and ailing parents (or other family members) and you will be pretty pissed off that thy're dying and you're stuck in a cubicle running TPS reports. You certainly won't feel so great knowing that time away makes the time you have more special when your loved ones are dying.

Come on, is the argument against my post now that it doesn't ring true if you have parents on their death bed? Do you really think I wouldn't take time off if this were the case?

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to 1337
2/1/13

1337:
God this is like watching a pileup in slow motion. Everyone just pouring in with their "Hey, great piece" and "Couldn't have said it better myself!". You are delusional if you think that work-life-balance doesn't mean anything and that somehow working 80 hours per week makes you happier because you have less time to "waste".

I can't tell if you are all trying to rationalize your current roles, want to believe that your hopes and dreams of working in these groups are not nightmares, or if you just read a well-written note and agree without thinking. Either way, take a step back and literally f*%k yourselves.

With all due respect, to someone right out of college (which appears to be who the OP is referring to), work/life balance means dick. What, really, is the "life" the typical 22-23 year old is trying to balance with work? Getting shitfaced? Watching television? That's not life, that's just wasting time that's better spent being productive.

Maybe you're older and know that work-life balance is hugely important when you have a family, or other responsibilities that matter far more than working. I don't disagree and that's a reality everyone will face eventually. But for the typical recent grad, the OP is offering good advice.

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

In reply to LBT
2/1/13

LBT:
I agree with 1337. Much like the 'why MBA' post by compbanker, this is another long winded post rationalizing your personal decision. However, in compbanker's post, he still had good points, and rational people could disagree. THIS post doesn't make much sense.

Your unemployed friend didn't do anything with his free time? No shit he wasn't happy. Vaynerchuk said take up your passion after work and don't watch TV? When the crap do you have even one day to drop your work and go home by six?

I am all for the philosophical discussions of how to spend one's time, but the evidence and conclusion is lacking here.

On the contrary, I'm hardly trying to rationalize my decision. I don't want to be in IB long term, and I'm not even planning on staying in finance for very long. Many weeks, I wish I had more time to contribute to the start-up that I'm working on on the side. I'm not disillusioned, nor do I think that spending 80 hours in an IB office is the best and most productive use of my time.

There are plenty of things I hope to change about my life in the future, as there will always be. But despite that, I don't regret any of the decisions I have made. I know plenty of IB analysts that regret their decisions, much as I know plenty of consultants that regret theirs, and plenty of people with 40-hour work weeks who regret theirs. I know people who are happy working a ton of hours, and people who are unhappy working very few. I am convinced their is very little relationship between the two, but instead there is an indication of people who would have been happy, regardless of what career path they chose.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to UFOinsider
2/1/13

UFOinsider:
cibo:
Stockholm syndrome at it's finest.

Mixed with huge doses of narcissism + greed.

Wow, these are some strong reactions.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to yeahright
2/1/13

yeahright:
Second, unemployed rich people or retired can be extremely happy or they cannot be, I can name plenty examples of this. My mother quit/retired from her job and hasn't bothered finding a job for a while, she gets the opportunity to go to my younger sisters' sports games, school events and cherises the time she has as "free time". Just because you know someone that couldn't figure out a way to utilize their time efficiently, does not mean people are more happy working than not working. My girlfriend's grandfather is retired after 40 years as a doctor and absolutely loves it. He uses his time to travel a lot, golf a lot, fish a lot, kiyak etc. Once again, he is utilizing his free time to enjoy himself. You said, an occupation is a convient way to put your time to good use. That depends on the person, and if that person has no desires or passions in life of course they be better suited working than sitting on their ass figuring out how to enjoy their freedom.

In terms of spending your resources, whether that be time or money, is also extremely subjective. How many news stories have occured where that lottery winner you heard about, goes broke because they didn't know how to handle having it all? Then when you go on to explain how the more free time you have, you partake in pointless endeavours. Maybe thats having a lack of self-control? I know plenty of people who utilize their free time to build relationships with people, learn languages, cooking classes, fitness etc. I would argue these are not pointless endeavours. On top of this, one could argue what you categorize as pointless endeavours are more meaningful to others. Reading a book, watching a movie, sleeping in are not always pointless endeavours, and some people may cherish this time to relax and do nothing. It does not necessarily mean they spent their time wisely or not.

My goodness, it's really intriguing to me that the message of my post has been pulled so far from what I thought I was pointing out.

According to this response, the principle that you are taking away from my post is this: "You ought to work as much as possible, because free time will only make you unhappy." Is that really what you think I was trying to say?

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

NorthSider:
mikesswimn:
Whether you decide on children or not is completely up to you, but they will represent a change in perspective from what you've outlined in your post. I completely agree with your points from the perspective of a young, single person, but many points you make, while 100% accurate for many, are no longer applicable when you have kids.

While I think it's fantastic that you have such a fruitful and positive relationship with your children (much as I do with my parents), I fundamentally disagree here. For every few people that I know that love every minute they get with their children, I know a few others whose children almost undoubtedly made their life less joyful.

I realize that's a very unpopular perspective, for which I will likely be derided in subsequent comments, but I don't believe my mind will be changed on this matter. I don't buy into the idea that children necessarily make people happier or make them rethink life in a more positive light. In fact, a great deal of psychological literature I've read on the matter suggests that children often reduce people's happiness when studied longitudinally.

Does not hold up in regards to spending time with children. The more time you spend with them, the more you enjoy it.

I can't even count the number of times that my parents arranged time to spend away from us children when I was growing up for the sake of their sanity. And I don't blame them for it!

Will also fail to hold up when you have kids. In particular, spending less time with children doesn't make the time together better, it makes it substantially worse.

I disagree. My father was a consultant, and consequently he spent a great deal of time out-of-town. When he came home on the weekends, he would always be incredibly excited to see everyone. And though he often made statements like "I wish I got to spend more time with you guys", I often question whether that would have made things any better. I have a phenomenal relationship with my father, and I admire his accomplishments in many ways. Who's to say that our relationship would have been better or worse had we only spent more time together when I was growing up?

---

Also, I find it very illuminating that the argument for needing more "free time" is being centered around having children, which is undoubtedly the greatest expenditure of "free time" that exists. Isn't this an argument in favor of having less free time and instead committing it to the development of a child?

I think you're missing my point. In fact, I'm agreeing with you in a broad sense, namely that wasting time on tumblr, getting hammered at bars, chasing tail at clubs, and watching Lost reruns is not a reason to seek "work/life balance". In fact, the only reason you should need to balance "work" and "life" is if "life" is a bunch of hard work that needs to be done. This is why you're seeing all the ole people centering their arguments arond "children". Raising children, like nuturing a marriage, or tending to a relative in poor health are times when you need to balance "life" with "work". Not surprisingly, things like that look a hell of a lot more like "work" than they look like "fun", which is what I originally got from your post. That is, people seeking "work/life balance" in pursuit of "fun" aren't going to be more fufilled or happier than those who don't.

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

The WSO Advantage - Investment Banking

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation +

IB Interview Prep Pack

30,000+ sold & REAL questions.

Resume Help from Actual IB Pros

Land More IB Interviews.

Find Your Perfect IB Mentor

Realistic IB Mock Interviews.

2/1/13

OP, I liked your post, and I agree with a lot of what you had to say. I especially echo the sentiment about making the most of unexpected/more then usual free time.

Here is where I am having a hard time. One of your fundamental assumptions is that quality of time is greater then quantity. You then build on that by asserting that spending too much on/with something/someone is/usually is really bad (eg fighting with friends). So here is where I get lost, how does that reconcile with spending an exorbitant 80-100 hours a week on work not succumb to this pitfall.Why does too much time spent with your counter-part in a relationship( friend, girlfriend, wife,etc) not apply to your relationship with work? At first, it seemed like you were saying since you like work it is okay, but that doesn't mesh up later, because I'm going to assume you like your friends/spending time with your father.

This isn't me trying to be an argumentative keyboard warrior. I am genuinely curious, because I agree that spending too much on/with any other entity is toxic. For me that includes work. There are only so many 15+ hour days in a row I can take before that relationship becomes, we will say "strained." So I guess I'm seeking advice on how to over come that.

In reply to mikesswimn
2/1/13

mikesswimn:
I think you're missing my point. In fact, I'm agreeing with you in a broad sense, namely that wasting time on tumblr, getting hammered at bars, chasing tail at clubs, and watching Lost reruns is not a reason to seek "work/life balance". In fact, the only reason you should need to balance "work" and "life" is if "life" is a bunch of hard work that needs to be done. This is why you're seeing all the ole people centering their arguments arond "children". Raising children, like nuturing a marriage, or tending to a relative in poor health are times when you need to balance "life" with "work". Not surprisingly, things like that look a hell of a lot more like "work" than they look like "fun", which is what I originally got from your post. That is, people seeking "work/life balance" in pursuit of "fun" aren't going to be more fufilled or happier than those who don't.

I think we're in agreement in this respect. My point in bringing up the fact that people were centering their argument around raising children is that parents trying to reduce the numbers of hours they spend in the office aren't mindlessly seeking more "free time" in hopes that increasing the quantity of hours marked as "free" will make them happier. Instead, they are looking to trade hours working in the office for hours working to raise a family. They are both occupations of time, in the truest sense.

Still, I think people overestimate the value that spending more time on something will produce. But that's just my suspicion.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/1/13

Well said OP. I can attest from a different stand point. In my role I rarely ever leave the office past 5 and have ample free time, but I would kill for something that forced me to work twice as many hours if I were more challenged. Whatever my next job is compensation will be much less of a concern than my actual work responsibilities and office environment.

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

NorthSider:
SirTradesaLot:
...but even if you don't, you will most likely face aging and ailing parents (or other family members) and you will be pretty pissed off that thy're dying and you're stuck in a cubicle running TPS reports. You certainly won't feel so great knowing that time away makes the time you have more special when your loved ones are dying.

Come on, is the argument against my post now that it doesn't ring true if you have parents on their death bed? Do you really think I wouldn't take time off if this were the case?


Many times, the deathbed situation isn't that someone is fine one second and dead the next. If you're dealing with cancer or simply advanced age, it is a process and usually it takes months or years of deterioration. Being stuck in the office all the time will take you away from them. All your work seems important at the time, but when a family member is actually on their deathbed, everything at work will seem inconsequential.

The simple point is that too much of anything is not a good thing. Slaving away for someone else for 80 hours a week is unhealthy. The reality is, almost nobody actually works 80 hours per week, even if they are at work for more than that. So, while one can criticize what someone does with their free time out of the office, it's just as likely that someone is wasting significant time at work but they're in the office for face time or waiting on someone else to finish something oT for someone to send down their orders. Not exactly fulfilling.

I will say that your article is very well written. I also believe that it contains a large element of self-justification for the choice you have made to work banking hours. For me, it would have seemed more authentic if the idea was, "hey, I'm young so I'll sacrifice for the future. I recognize putting in ridiculous hours is not fun and is unsustainable, but I'm willing to eat some shit now so that I can be in a better spot later.". The idea that spending that much time at work is good because there's not much better to do just doesn't align with what I've experienced.

I can say for sure that if I was working 80 hours per week, reducing that number to 50 would materially improve my life.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

In reply to Gogoplata
2/1/13

Gogoplata:
OP, I liked your post, and I agree with a lot of what you had to say. I especially echo the sentiment about making the most of unexpected/more then usual free time.

Here is where I am having a hard time. One of your fundamental assumptions is that quality of time is greater then quantity. You then build on that by asserting that spending too much on/with something/someone is/usually is really bad (eg fighting with friends). So here is where I get lost, how does that reconcile with spending an exorbitant 80-100 hours a week on work not succumb to this pitfall.Why does too much time spent with your counter-part in a relationship( friend, girlfriend, wife,etc) not apply to your relationship with work? At first, it seemed like you were saying since you like work it is okay, but that doesn't mesh up later, because I'm going to assume you like your friends/spending time with your father.

This isn't me trying to be an argumentative keyboard warrior. I am genuinely curious, because I agree that spending too much on/with any other entity is toxic. For me that includes work. There are only so many 15+ hour days in a row I can take before that relationship becomes, we will say "strained." So I guess I'm seeking advice on how to over come that.

I think we agree entirely. And I think that you managed to identify the real message I was trying to convey. Though I didn't include an example in the original post (it was already long enough, and I didn't think I needed to convince anyone that working 100 hrs per week wasn't the best use of your time), I think that jobs are just as vulnerable to this same phenomenon.

If you don't really love something, spending 100 hours doing it every week is only going to make you more intimate with the parts you hate about it. But that's entirely my point! If you don't already love your "free time", having more of it isn't going to suddenly make things better, it's just going to exacerbate the reasons why it isn't satisfying you right now. A lot of people I know seem to think that they would have more friends or do more interesting things or have more fun if only they had more free time. Yet the seem to squander the free time they already have. I am quite skeptical, then, that adding to their stockpile of free time will actually accomplish much of anything.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/1/13

Very different when you actually love your job. Hopefully some of you will experience that after hopping to the preftigious buyside. I enjoy working as much as I enjoy shooting the shit with the bros. I'm on cloud 9, brothers.

In reply to SirTradesaLot
2/1/13

SirTradesaLot:
The simple point is that too much of anything is not a good thing. Slaving away for someone else for 80 hours a week is unhealthy. The reality is, almost nobody actually works 80 hours per week, even if they are at work for more than that. So, while one can criticize what someone does with their free time out of the office, it's just as likely that someone is wasting significant time at work but they're in the office for face time or waiting on someone else to finish something oT for someone to send down their orders. Not exactly fulfilling.

I will say that your article is very well written. I also believe that it contains a large element of self-justification for the choice you have made to work banking hours. For me, it would have seemed more authentic if the idea was, "hey, I'm young so I'll sacrifice for the future. I recognize putting in ridiculous hours is not fun and is unsustainable, but I'm willing to eat some shit now so that I can be in a better spot later.". The idea that spending that much time at work is good because there's not much better to do just doesn't align with what I've experienced.

Again, I think that the point I was trying to make here must not have come across very clearly.

Let me try to make this as clear as possible: by no means am I trying to argue that working 80 hours per week is the "sweet spot" for life satisfaction. People seem to be under the impression that I am trying to convince everyone here to quit their current jobs and take whatever job is available that allows you to work 80 hours per week. Although this might seem unfathomable, I am not trying to justify or glorify IB, nor am I trying to convince others to pursue it as a career.

What I am trying to say is that, within reason, the quantity of hours we spend on any particular task (whether it's work or life) doesn't really affect your satisfaction with the outcome. I tried to demonstrate that the person who has 110 hours a week of "free time" is no happier than the person who has 110 hours a week of "IB time". These are the extrema, so I tried to make the majority of my argument within the bounds of reason. My observations have been that on the sliding scale of workload per week (call it 40-80 hours, on average), I haven't noticed a correlation between happiness and free time.

I can say for sure that if I was working 80 hours per week, reducing that number to 50 would materially improve my life.

I think this is the best sentence to illustrate where we disagree. I don't think this statement is universally true, though most people are convinced that it is. Adding 30 hours to your "free time" will not make you happy. Finding a way to spend your free time in a way that really makes you happy will.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

NorthSider:

I can say for sure that if I was working 80 hours per week, reducing that number to 50 would materially improve my life.

I think this is the best sentence to illustrate where we disagree. I don't think this statement is universally true, though most people are convinced that it is. Adding 30 hours to your "free time" will not make you happy. Finding a way to spend your free time in a way that really makes you happy will.


maybe we don't necessarily disagree. I have always had interesting things to do with my free time, which is what makes it hard for me to believe that most people don't. At this point, going to 80 hours a week would increase my hours by ~30 and there is really nothing that could entice me to work that many hours for an extended period of time.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

In reply to SirTradesaLot
2/1/13

SirTradesaLot:
NorthSider:

I can say for sure that if I was working 80 hours per week, reducing that number to 50 would materially improve my life.

I think this is the best sentence to illustrate where we disagree. I don't think this statement is universally true, though most people are convinced that it is. Adding 30 hours to your "free time" will not make you happy. Finding a way to spend your free time in a way that really makes you happy will.


maybe we don't necessarily disagree. I have always had interesting things to do with my free time, which is what makes it hard for me to believe that most people don't. At this point, going to 80 hours a week would increase my hours by ~30 and there is really nothing that could entice me to work that many hours for an extended period of time.

I agree that if you're loving every mintue outside of work, you'd probably only stand to benefit from having more "free time". But having more "free time" isn't a catch-all solution.

As I think is quite easily demonstrated by the millions of unhappy adults in the world: working 40 hours per week doesn't guarantee happiness. Nor does working 80 hours per week guarantee unhappiness.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/1/13

I don't know if I was crazier coming in to what I just read, or if I am crazier having had just read all of this.

2/1/13

Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

2/1/13
2/1/13

I think the fundamental point OP is trying to make, that how we SPEND our time and use it so that it maximizes our utility is what is most important. I work 40 hours a week and absolutely despise my work at the moment. The people I work with are clueless, the work isn't challenging, and I'm neither making a ton of money nor am I setting myself up for the future. Currently, I would gladly work 60 hours for a more challenging, faster paced job where I'd be earning more but also am at greater risk for being held accountable for my fuck ups.

The extra 20 hours of leisure time I currently get doesn't maximize my PERSONAL utility of wanting a more meaningful career. However, at the other end, I know that I couldn't work in Investment Banking and put in 80+ hours a week because that would be at the other end of the extreme where my overly stressful job and (probable) deterioration of health would diminish my utility, especially when coupled with the lack of time to do chores outside of work and meet up with other people. The extra benefit I'd get from working those hours, whether it is a better bonus, exit opps, etc. might not be worth it for me because I value my health more than others may value their exits or a fat bonus check. It just depends on what you want.

For me, the so called "sweet spot" people are debating about is likely working 55-60 hours in a challenging, but not overly stressful job that gives me greater job satisfaction, while still being reasonable enough to allow me to go to the gym, cook healthy meals, see my friends, spend time outdoors on the weekends, etc.. The OP's whole point is that this sweet spot differs for everyone based on individual preferences and it's naive to believe that one will be maximizing his or her utility by working 60 hours vs 80 hours a week if those 20 hours are wasted and not doing something that brings an individual happiness. This can also change as one gets older and preferences change. For example, if I have kids, maybe those extra 20 hours spent with them or my future family would be worth the trade-off in terms of job responsibilities. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to this, so hard rules about what is "good work-life balance" doesn't make sense.

Correct me if I'm wrong OP, but I think this is the essence of your post.

2/1/13

NorthSider: Not sure if this is the Vaynerchuk talk you pulled the quote from, but the whole thing is worth watching:

In reply to TNA
2/1/13

TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

If you must go to Wal-Mart to purchase a shotgun, get the Remington 870 Express. It's a good gun, but much better for trap/skeet shooting then suicide, because it's a pump action shotgun it has greater recoil (and, you have to remember to pump it, of course) compared to equivalent semi-automatics and even O/Us in many cases.

Really, while I wouldn't recommend committing suicide in general, I'd definitely not recommend it with the product line that Wal-Mart offers. Just my $0.02.

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

In reply to NorthSider
2/1/13

NorthSider:
working 40 hours per week doesn't guarantee happiness. Nor does working 80 hours per week guarantee unhappiness.

Well said. It comes down to personal choice.

Get busy living

In reply to TNA
2/1/13

TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

+1

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/1/13

Depending on the month, I work anywhere from 60-90 hours a week, love my job, am learning my third instrument, hoping to finish up the cfa soon, fly fishing on sundays, recently single, and it's rare to find me on a weekend morning not face down on my couch with my loft looking like whiskey and beer bottles fought world war fucking 3. This is probably the epitome of what you consider "wasted time," and it's hard to mount an objective argument to the contrary. But I'm as happy as I can remember, and while this surely isn't a permanent state, I'm advancing my career goals and doing all in my power to enjoy it while I'm doing it.

My roommate hasn't worked under 120 hours since September. Often walks in the door for a shower before heading back as I'm waking up. His health is in shambles, he doesn't have the time or energy to talk to talk to women, hasn't worked out in months (and it shows) and has pretty much accepted the fact he'll have shaved multiple years off his life by the time his stint is over (1.5 more yrs). Makes me feel lucky!

2/1/13

As a single guy in his early 20s, I am fine being 100% about my career. It's the right time to put in the hours, and I like my job. I have so little going on outside my work life...well, if I was fired, I would probably have a nervous breakdown within a week. I actually go into work on the weekends just for the hell of it. But I am reasonably content - actually, I think I am happier now than at any other point in my life.

I think people hate IB because being an analyst demands more than 100% of your available time. As a summer, I distinctly remember thinking, "Wtf, [store] closes at 11pm? How are we supposed to shop?" - almost 100% of your non-sleep hours are at the office, and you are still cutting sleep to work more. It's unpleasant to live that way.

If your job doesn't bug you, you can put in 70-80 hours a week without much pain. But the value of your "leisure" (really non-work work) time increases dramatically as you approach 90+ hours.

2/1/13

I pray to god the OP never ends up as my boss :p

If you think that you end up wasting your time whenever you have less than 80 work hours/week, then you are seriously missing out on life and it's possibilities. Some golfer once said "Don't hurry, don't worry, you're only here for a short visit, so be sure to smell the flowers along the way."

In reply to TNA
2/1/13

TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

Gold

2/1/13
In reply to TNA
2/1/13

TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

So true it hurts to read.

2/1/13

NorthSider -- one of the better posts I have ever read on the site. I think deep down I have always felt the same way about work/life balance as you have, only I have never been able to come close to articulating it as well as you have, usually opting for the "pussies can't pull their hours and all they do is bitch".

Kudos to you.

2/1/13

Oh -- and I love bringing consultants into the piece. Long have I lived through consulting buddies throwing around the "I love my job, I have such a great work/life balance...that's why I didn't go into IB, the brutal hours...I want some time on the weekends to enjoy life..."

Hey all you consultants out there -- we know you went into the field because you couldn't hack the competition to get into IB.

2/1/13

Right now, your main priority is your career so of course, investing your time in IB is fulfilling, but like some people have said, balance is important especially when you have a family. Spending one day with them is just not enough time to nurture any relationship with your loved ones.

I grew up in a household where both of my parents always worked 80-100 hours. Even till this day, my parents are tied to their business, but they don't work that many hours. Many times, my dad has said "Because of my ambition and business, I deprived you of your childhood. If only I had free time, you could have participated in sports or music like you wanted. Or we could have travelled, and I could have given you the opportunity to experience different things in life. But this business keeps me tied to the office. I missed so much of your life, especially when we moved here. You would be asleep when I arrived and already at school when I left for work. The only way I knew what was happening with you is because your mom kept me updated."

If my parents didn't start their own business and still worked 80+ hours, I doubt we would be a close family. Starting their own business gave them the freedom to nurture a family in their own way because I'd stay with them at work after school. I don't feel deprived of a childhood, but if anything, watching them work long hours made me think that's normal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that work/life balance is important so that you can go experience life with your loved ones or just have time to relax after work and do the things you want to do, but that balance is different for everyone. If that means watching tv or getting wasted, that's completely fine. But if a person is working 40 hours a week and complaining about how they don't have enough time to do anything, they really need to learn how to make the most out of their time.

In reply to Volo
2/1/13

don_pepe:
I pray to god the OP never ends up as my boss :p

If you think that you end up wasting your time whenever you have less than 80 work hours/week, then you are seriously missing out on life and it's possibilities. Some golfer once said "Don't hurry, don't worry, you're only here for a short visit, so be sure to smell the flowers along the way."

It continues to intrigue me that so many people are interpreting the point of my post as "you should work 80 hours per week, any less and you are wasting your time." This isn't the point at all.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to West Coast rainmaker
2/1/13

West Coast rainmaker:
If your job doesn't bug you, you can put in 70-80 hours a week without much pain. But the value of your "leisure" (really non-work work) time increases dramatically as you approach 90+ hours.

Agreed, but even among IB analysts, very few people are putting in consistent 100+ hour weeks.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to Chocobo
2/1/13

Moni:
Right now, your main priority is your career so of course, investing your time in IB is fulfilling, but like some people have said, balance is important especially when you have a family. Spending one day with them is just not enough time to nurture any relationship with your loved ones.

I grew up in a household where both of my parents always worked 80-100 hours. Even till this day, my parents are tied to their business, but they don't work that many hours. Many times, my dad has said "Because of my ambition and business, I deprived you of your childhood. If only I had free time, you could have participated in sports or music like you wanted. Or we could have travelled, and I could have given you the opportunity to experience different things in life. But this business keeps me tied to the office. I missed so much of your life, especially when we moved here. You would be asleep when I arrived and already at school when I left for work. The only way I knew what was happening with you is because your mom kept me updated."

If my parents didn't start their own business and still worked 80+ hours, I doubt we would be a close family. Starting their own business gave them the freedom to nurture a family in their own way because I'd stay with them at work after school. I don't feel deprived of a childhood, but if anything, watching them work long hours made me think that's normal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that work/life balance is important so that you can go experience life with your loved ones or just have time to relax after work and do the things you want to do, but that balance is different for everyone. If that means watching tv or getting wasted, that's completely fine. But if a person is working 40 hours a week and complaining about how they don't have enough time to do anything, they really need to learn how to make the most out of their time.

This was discussed pretty thoroughly earlier in the thread, so I'll copy my basic conclusion below:

I think we're in agreement in this respect. My point in bringing up the fact that people were centering their argument around raising children is that parents trying to reduce the numbers of hours they spend in the office aren't mindlessly seeking more "free time" in hopes that increasing the quantity of hours marked as "free" will make them happier. Instead, they are looking to trade hours working in the office for hours working to raise a family. They are both occupations of time, in the truest sense.

Still, I think people overestimate the value that spending more time on something will produce. But that's just my suspicion.

The basic premise is this: Finding ways to occupy your time (whether that's with work or with family or with friends) is what makes you happy, not the time itself.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/1/13

I am shocked my post was so well received hahah.

IMO, the people who bitch about not having enough free time never do anything of value with it. Sitting at home and watching TV is a waste of time and a life. Quality of free time, not quantity.

Not that I follow this advice as I am drunk or sleeping during my non working hours haha

In reply to TNA
2/1/13

TNA:
I am shocked my post was so well received hahah.

IMO, the people who bitch about not having enough free time never do anything of value with it. Sitting at home and watching TV is a waste of time and a life. Quality of free time, not quantity.

Not that I follow this advice as I am drunk or sleeping during my non working hours haha

Nothing wrong with being drunk when you're not working. Still don't understand why it's so looked down upon. I mean, generally people are more sociable and more fun to be around when they be drankin -- least in my experience. Only people it doesn't hold true to are those girls from college that instantly start bickering or crying when they rip a kamikaze.

2/1/13

Completely agree with the OP. To me, free time was never enjoyed for what it "was", but for what it stood in contrast to. For example, the best weekends always came after horrible weeks because of the contrast. Take that exact same weekend and put it after a week that was great, and it just doesn't have the same feel to it. As silly as it sounds, I almost love working because of the way it makes me feel when I'm not. No work = no pleasure from the contrast of work. Best example I can think of is going to the gym. Nobody enjoys going to the gym per se (at least not if you're doing it right) but they love the feeling they get when they leave. And if you like THAT feeling enough, you eventually fool yourself into liking the process.

In reply to FrankD'anconia
2/1/13

FrankD'anconia:
Completely agree with the OP. To me, free time was never enjoyed for what it "was", but for what it stood in contrast to. For example, the best weekends always came after horrible weeks because of the contrast. Take that exact same weekend and put it after a week that was great, and it just doesn't have the same feel to it. As silly as it sounds, I almost love working because of the way it makes me feel when I'm not. No work = no pleasure from the contrast of work. Best example I can think of is going to the gym. Nobody enjoys going to the gym per se (at least not if you're doing it right) but they love the feeling they get when they leave. And if you like THAT feeling enough, you eventually fool yourself into liking the process.

Touche Mr. D'anconia. Great analogy.

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/1/13

Edmundo Braverman:
TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

So true it hurts to read.


Why is it that the people in this industry whose perspective most closely aligns with my own are perceived by myself as either
1. Psychotic
2. Shamelessly classless
3. Deprived of any family values
4. Motivated to the point of retardation
5. Some combination of the above

....either that or it's some corny bullshit. I'm as dysfunctional as the next guy, but really??? How tortured and driven by demons am I supposed to think you are???

I can't tell.

Get busy living

2/1/13

well,,,, I surely do not want the OP to be my boss...

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/1/13

Edmundo Braverman:
NorthSider: Not sure if this is the Vaynerchuk talk you pulled the quote from, but the whole thing is worth watching:

This could be about Patrick.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

In reply to UFOinsider
2/1/13

UFOinsider:
Edmundo Braverman:
TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

So true it hurts to read.


Why is it that the people in this industry whose perspective most closely aligns with my own are perceived by myself as either
1. Psychotic
2. Shamelessly classless
3. Deprived of any family values
4. Motivated to the point of retardation
5. Some combination of the above

....either that or it's some corny bullshit. I'm as dysfunctional as the next guy, but really??? How tortured and driven by demons am I supposed to think you are???

I can't tell.

That's ok, you don't have to like yourself in order to strive.

The Auto Show

2/1/13

One of the best threads I've read on this site.

One thing that I actually have noticed is that ever since I started taking 18+ units a semester my life has been grinding nonstop and I'm seeing my friends and family less and less. However just like you mentioned, the time I do spend with them is more fun and rewarding. Whenever I have a day off I have no idea what to even do with my time and end up wasting the day away. I would much rather have a busy schedule than 24 hours of leisure. I like being productive.

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win" - Sun Tzu

2/2/13

Starting the weekend on a better note

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."

In reply to UFOinsider
2/2/13

UFOinsider:
Edmundo Braverman:
TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.

So true it hurts to read.


Why is it that the people in this industry whose perspective most closely aligns with my own are perceived by myself as either
1. Psychotic
2. Shamelessly classless
3. Deprived of any family values
4. Motivated to the point of retardation
5. Some combination of the above

....either that or it's some corny bullshit. I'm as dysfunctional as the next guy, but really??? How tortured and driven by demons am I supposed to think you are???

I can't tell.

Go have a kid. I dare you.

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/2/13

Edmundo Braverman:
NorthSider: Not sure if this is the Vaynerchuk talk you pulled the quote from, but the whole thing is worth watching:

It sure is, he is a pretty crazy guy, but his insight is surprisingly useful.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/2/13

For the entrepreneurial and driven among us, maybe work/life balance is about the time spent working for someone else versus working on the next project outside the office, getting to where you really want to be.

I think a lot of it stems from those idle hours at work when you're waiting for turnaround, review, etc. I can't be the only one who has thought, "Man, what else could I be doing instead of sitting here?"

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

In reply to In The Flesh
2/2/13

In The Flesh:
For the entrepreneurial and driven among us, maybe work/life balance is about the time spent working for someone else versus working on the next project outside the office, getting to where you really want to be.

I think a lot of it stems from those idle hours at work when you're waiting for turnaround, review, etc. I can't be the only one who has thought, "Man, what else could I be doing instead of sitting here?"

I don't know about you, but I never spend that time just sitting around.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/2/13

aside from the whole "your perspective will change once you have kids" argument, i'm just gonna go ahead and say, as a 20-something year old, i love "wasting time" as the OP put it. having the option to unwind with an hour of tv at night is great. seeing some of my non-finance friends who work less than 60 or 70 hours a week (which i realize isn't even that much by finance standards) a few times a week is also great. spending time with my girlfriend after work for more than an hour before i have to go bed - you guessed it - also great.

but the one thing i think the OP is missing, or maybe just isn't concerned with at this point, which is fine, is that it is great to have control over some portion of your schedule. 80-90 hours a week of time you are dedicating to work is a lot, and having to worry that your weekend brunch you planned with your friends is going to be cancelled because your MD needs you to change a ppt deck or something seems unsustainable in terms of stress.

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

In reply to TNA
2/2/13

TNA:
Great post North, love your stuff. Miniature humans are fine, but spending too much time with them makes your brain go to mush. Put off having kids as long as possible and when/if you do make sure you have a friggin nanny and/or maid. Zero value added dealing with a crying kid.

6 months of that and I would just buy a shotgun and one shell from Wal-Mart.


If you ever become curious as to why you're single, it probably would help to reread this post. Especially since it's unclear who is the intended target of your single shell.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/2/13

Edmundo Braverman:
Go have a kid. I dare you.

LOL it will eventually happen. Personally, I'm heavily family oriented and come from a huge family. Just to illustrate, I have 100+ first cousins, and get along well with most of them. I can't even imagine a long term future without a crowd of people I call my own. Yes, working very hard at the start of a career is expected. Yes, a career change in my late 20's is going to make that worse. Yes the world today and this industry in particular aren't going to make life easy on a simple 9-5. I get that. Putting in long hours has to be done. If one is actually making it a point to become wealthy, then it's going to be even worse. .....for a while.

But when I see guys talking about living out life like that to the exclusion of all else, well, it seems sad more than anything else. What type of unhappiness would drive that behavior? Simple pleasures like a day trip, family party, a hobby or any type of non work activity....these things need not be expensive but they do take time. A marriage not ending in divorce? You have to be around, or you get replaced. Can your wife leave you and will kids drive you nuts some days? Well, fuck yeah. Is there a whole lot more to the whole thing than that? Uhm. Yeah. It's not that people can choose to put off having a family (like I am), I get the distinct impression that a scary percent of people in this business don't even have any concept of a standard, baseline family/personal life. As in, non job time.

And that's all this is: a job. Period. Despite the talk about "entrepeneurship" or whatever, only a tiny fraction of these kids are ever going to build any type of lasting company that will pay their bills over time. A tinier fraction will end up independantly wealthy like you. The vast majority will, and have been, working at a job. And these are really good jobs compared to others, no doubt about it, but they are just jobs and we work them to generate in income.

Work to live, don't live to work. If you have no choice, or find something you REALLY like and/or is an awesome opportunity, yeah, go balls in and take advantage of it. Your friends and family will get over you not being around as much for a while. But if it's anything less than that...status, money, power, etc...it's just time away from the reason we work: to raise cash to pay for our life. Honestly, if any one of these guys working 90 hour weeks well after school fails to make a billion dollars, how fucked are they at 50? If I fail, I at least have family, friends, and all the good things in life. It's not like failing at becomming rich is the end of life, and there are worse fates than having to go to work and make less than a million dollars a year. And if I end up insanely successful, then hey, even better. But I read in one of the posts that this kid doesn't even know what to do with a day off....to me, that is very sad considering that there are so many things to do in life that they don't even see. I grew up hella strict, but even then we learned to do fun stuff any chance we got.

Hearing 20 something year old kids as totally broken and toolish as I see on this site, well, I can't help wonder what miserable, joyless gulag their life has been up until this point if their career has such a hold over everything else in life. I also wonder why they'd perpetuate it. And I'm not even looking at some lazy, hipster cop out for not working. I'm talking basic balance.

I'm calling bullshit for most of these discussions. I'm recommending intense therapy for the rest. A family member who is a social worker and another in psychology are making a veritable killing counselling overstressed and disconnected finance types. Look around your office and probably half of the people you see can't stand it. And for what? If you're working insane hours for more than a few years and don't absolutely love it....get the hell out before life passes you by. It's just not worth it.

That's just how I see it.

Get busy living

2/2/13

@UFO Those are all good points and you're not wrong. I was never really one of those guys who worked to the exclusion of all else. If anything, I spent the bulk of my adult life as an unapologetic hedonist - which perhaps explains the devastating impact fatherhood had on my lifestyle.

Some people are born to be parents and enjoy having family around them 24/7. I just don't happen to be among them.

What I think most young people fail to realize is how precious their free time really is and how it absolutely vaporizes the second some broad pulls up pregnant. The next 20 years of your life are pretty much booked solid with shit you wouldn't do on a bet if you didn't absolutely have to.

2/2/13

actually, fuck work/life balance. any jobs that just focus on the "life" side?

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/2/13

Edmundo Braverman:
What I think most young people fail to realize is how precious their free time really is and how it absolutely vaporizes the second some broad pulls up pregnant. The next 20 years of your life are pretty much booked solid with shit you wouldn't do on a bet if you didn't absolutely have to.

Amen. Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks this.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/2/13

Edmundo Braverman:
@UFO Those are all good points and you're not wrong. I was never really one of those guys who worked to the exclusion of all else. If anything, I spent the bulk of my adult life as an unapologetic hedonist - which perhaps explains the devastating impact fatherhood had on my lifestyle.

Some people are born to be parents and enjoy having family around them 24/7. I just don't happen to be among them.

What I think most young people fail to realize is how precious their free time really is and how it absolutely vaporizes the second some broad pulls up pregnant. The next 20 years of your life are pretty much booked solid with shit you wouldn't do on a bet if you didn't absolutely have to.


Ah, gotcha, and while I sincerely look forward to the whole settling down and taking up roots thing....I'm in no rush. So in that sense, I've learned a LOT from you, and I think I speak for a lot of the guys here when I say 'thank you'.

As Aquinas once said "Oh God, give me chastity[fidelity]......BUT NOT YET!!!"

Get busy living

2/2/13

I think that you have fundamentally forgotten the meaning of "free" time. The point of work/life balance is that you have control or "choice" over how to spend your time. At the risk of sounding trite, people are fundamentally different (shocking).

1. Some people are thrilled to be unemployed, because they want all of their time allocated to activities (non-work) that they enjoy: spending time with kids, gardening, what have you. Some people hate being unemployed, because they would prefer working. I know that I personally can't fathom retiring, even if I were to win the lottery, because I'm happy when I do meaningful, productive work.

2. Going to your point, some people LOVE working 24/7 (cue: entrepreneurs who are so passionate about their work that they can often pull hours worse than bankers. I honestly think the CEO of a startup I was a part of never slept - we would get emails about patents and new marketing ideas at 3am, 5am, 1a, you name it. Others, (example: one of the other commenters) find that they define work in other ways. For instance, one of the commenters mentioned preferring to work 9-5 before jumping into a whole host of volunteer/extra curricular work.

3. As other commenters have mentioned, it usually all changes for those with kids. However, the distinction here is that those who were perfectly happy to work 24/7 before now suddenly have something more meaningful in their lives that they would prefer to spend their time with (also applies to significant others, etc). True, some aren't wired this way, but let's face it, we're here on Earth before 99% of the people are. (Maybe 90% of those on Wall Street; 80% of the males on Wall Street)

Wanting work/life balance means that you want the ability to have some choice over how you spend your time instead of being forced into a life where you're working 24/7.

In reply to providence
2/2/13

providence:
I think that you have fundamentally forgotten the meaning of "free" time. The point of work/life balance is that you have control or "choice" over how to spend your time. At the risk of sounding trite, people are fundamentally different (shocking).

...

Wanting work/life balance means that you want the ability to have some choice over how you spend your time instead of being forced into a life where you're working 24/7.

See my response to this sentiment below:

You say there's a difference between what you "have" to do and that which you "choose" to do, but what is really the distinction here? No one is forced to continue in their current occupation. You do choose to work and your work is a project that you chose yourself. Just because it also confers monetary remuneration doesn't make it subordinate to the other choices that you make in life.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/3/13

wohoo! i must be really having alot of "free time" to be reading the post+all the comments....so as per OP i must be a really sad sad person!!! --- but i am surprised nobody really took a moment to really define the very core term of "happiness" here...for me its an oft changing output pertaining to an ever changing input of variables which change all the time....i can empathize with the OP here with his talk of "not wanting any free time" and also with the other lot who bring the miniature human beings into picture!! quite simply both the groups want to occupy themselves with activities they see as constructive...period...

i was someone who in the name of "thirst for extra knowledge and career" ended up spending 100+ hrs every week never for one waiting to think about all these work-life nonsense and was rewarded with a move to PE direct from BO....for me free time is as rightly pointed out a choice to keep yourself busy with activities you seem fit...and while for one its about burning the midnight oil at work for other its about spending time with your loved one..

in both cases the utility derived is one n same...the key word here is "OCCUPY"...and how some1 wants to use his time...for me if there is some one who is unemployed..travelling..watching lost reruns...reading novels...playing soccer in evening and spending time with loved ones is not "free"...he is actively occupying his time doing something he love and therefore for me is in the same boat as some1 who is working 80+ hrs in his work( even though it will soon feel foolish).....

in my take, the only devils in the equation are those who choose to passively occupy their time doing activities which are not at all productive at any level and hence degrade themselves mentally and create self sustained limits on themselves...for them you make them work one extra hour past their 30 hr weekdays and they will crib...and these are also the group who will cringe if you mention any activity wherein they are being forced out of their COMFORT ZONE!!

for all others its a choice of how you decide your fill your time and trust me i have had my share of time when i felt the same emotions surging through me after spending a 100 hrs on work as i did on a week where i was between jobs and did 20 different things which kept me busy and active even if it included watching a good movie or reading a novel or even spending a cherished 20 mts with your gf!

just my 2c..and before thinking on this issue it will do you a world of good going through this gem again n again!

Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." ~George Moore

2/3/13

Thank you North Sider, it is a well-written text with very insightful analyses. Unfortunately some of your comments have been misunderstood, but you have gone great lengths to precise and explain.

=> You are right, many people just like to complain irrespective of the amount of time/effort they place to their job. Perhaps the problem is not the amount of hours/tasks assigned, but the underlying value/perspective/meaning they attach to their work.
=> Others have a enough free time, which they decide to "waste", just to complain they don't have enough work-life balance. Perhaps the underlying problem is about knowing how to "invest" their time and acting on it.

...A caveat however, is that some time (limited) to roam around is very important. It helps you get perspective in life, discover things "out of your scope" since you are not "focused" on your interests, and whatever other positive/gains from letting your mind wander. So not always it is a "waste" of time, as random discoveries have come from these encounters.

=> The essence is that where there is meaning to you, the time is rather invested than spend (to follow your arguments on time-money), and so, some more hours of it are not taken as a burden. There is certainly a diminishing return on the utility these activities provide per additional hour, and there is also a range of what is healthy in the long run.

SirTradesalot is right in his observations, particularly on the shifting of priorities over time. At mid-20s you are building your career, hence (hopefully) enjoying investing your time on it. Perhaps at mid-30s you have a family, and spending quality time with your kids yields the highest utility. Sure, you still love your work (it's hopefully rewarding and meaningful) and you dedicate to it as much time as necessary. But now it is not the same. Suddenly a competing (new) allocation for your time just yields more satisfaction.

and indeed, it is also about quality and not necessarily quantity...

I see no contradiction between both worlds, as it would be a "waste of time" having your kids at home and you spending your evenings on something not rewarding (like watching tv as per your post)... even every additional hour put into your work, is an increasingly more expensive hour, as it could have been invested in something more rewarding. Sometimes you have to stay longer, but your willingness on the long run decreases.

Perhaps a better definition of Work-Life balance is the ability and freedom to allocate your time to those activities yielding the most utility to you at that particular phase in your life.

Again, thank you for taking the time to put these thoughts on the board and spinning the wheel... as you can see, it is a topic of interest to many of us.

2/3/13

First off, it's not work-life balance. It's work-life trade-offs.

My view is that work-life balance is a production possibility curve in terms of income vs. free-time. During our first hour of free time every week, we might spend it at our kids' baseball games. Or we might spend it running important errands. Or maybe at church.

During our fiftieth hour of free time in a week, we might spend it in front of the TV. So there's this declining marginal value to us.

We work in a city- and an industry- of 70,80, even 100 hour workweeks. Our free-time is very precious and very valuable.

2/3/13

Tough call. When one gets older and irresponsibilities outside of work (beyond recreation) pile up, there might be a more obvious answer....

NorthSider:
I've been doing a fair bit of thinking about the idea of a "work/life balance", and it's a topic that I encounter more often on this board than just about anywhere else, so I thought it an appropriate forum for discussion.

When I was in college interviewing for the typical set of sought-after entry-level positions, it was often striking to me that the aspect that distinguished those who preferred consulting to IB purportedly wanted a better "work/life balance". Frequently, there was no more important distinction than that.

When I asked friends who went into consulting why they chose consulting, they often responded by saying, "I just don't think I could deal with working that many hours" (as if their career decision were a presupposed dichotomy between banking and consulting? - but that's another discussion). And that led me to believe that I most certainly would be dissatisfied with my "work/life balance" once I started full-time in IB.

And, sure enough, hours started pouring from the faucet of my office into the sink of my week just as promised. I had gone into the job with the preexisting belief that my work/life balanced sucked, and I should be upset/sad/angry about it. I chatted with my coworkers about it and occasionally mentioned it to my friends. I was the picture of a perfect post-undergrad IB analyst: disgruntled and passionately pursuing greener pastures.

Until, one week, I started to realize that I was neither dissatisfied about my work nor my life (whether that means I have a "work/life balance", I have no idea)...

And it wasn't long before I started to realize that my friends in more "traditional" jobs complained just as often about working too much as my friends in IB. I decided to stop contributing to discussions about being dissatisfied with how many hours I was putting in and instead just listened to what others had to say. I spent hours listening to my friend ranting about how unfair it was that he was being paid for 35 hours per week (40 hrs. minus 5 hrs for lunch breaks), despite the fact that he wasn't able to take a full hour off for lunch and was occasionally asked to stay until 6:00 PM. Meanwhile, other friends of mine working 80+ hours were thrilled with what they were doing (AND they were somehow managing to find the time to hang out with me). All said, I noticed very little correlation between the quantity of work and the amount of complaints about work. Everyone was looking for a better "work/life balance" in their next job, but when I asked, no one could put a finger on exactly what that entailed.

While I suspect that when most people long for "work/life balance", what they truly need is "work/life satisfaction", I understood that in everyday conversation, my friends were using "work/life balance" as a euphemism for "I would be happier, if only I worked fewer hours per week."

I think that this belief originates from a profoundly powerful, yet remarkable subtle metaphor that we employ in everyday language: time is money. It's one of the most frequent ways we communicate about time ("I spent an hour with her", or "Could you lend me a few minutes of your time?", or "I devoted my time to this cause", or "That awful movie cost me 2 hours of my life!"). But beneath the surface, it also implies two characteristics about our time: 1) our time is valuable and scarce, and 2) when we "spend" our time on something, we expect to receive value commensurate with the amount of time spent.

Troublingly, I think this leads an erroneous conclusion: if I spend more time doing something, I will enjoy it more. This is the premise that causes us to believe that obtaining more "free time" would make us happier.

After some thought, I have come to doubt the truth of this proposition, and I offer three examples of why I believe it to be untrue:

  1. I find that I enjoy personal and intimate relationships more when we spend less time together. This is the age-old problem with young love. Remember when your mother always told you that the reason you got in fights with your friends is because you were spending too much time with them? Though you probably doubted it at the time, I think we grow into the realization that time apart is a valuable piece of a relationship. More important than that, I think, is the scarcity of the time you spend together. When I spend a week boxed up in the office without being able to go out with friends, I often find that conversation is the most vibrant when we are reunited. We have a better time, there's more to catch up on, and a new face is a refreshing respite from our daily lives. On the contrary, on the few occasions in college when I found myself going out every night with similar groups of friends, I quickly tired of going out and received less enjoyment from interacting with these friends.
  2. Unemployed (even those with great personal wealth) people are among the least happy people I know. I once knew a guy that was in a serious relationship with a very successful significant other. He was in-between jobs when their relationship started, and when he realized that he could live more extravagantly than he had ever imagined without working a single hour, he decided to put more time between those jobs. What I witnessed was a powerful descent into stagnant unhappiness. He could, within reason, do whatever he wanted, yet he couldn't find anything that he wanted to do. Simply having all the free time in the world doesn't translate into happiness. It should come as no surprise, then, that wealthy entrepreneurs found charitable organizations or invest in new businesses to occupy their time. For most people, an occupation is a means to earn money, but even in the absence of that, it seems an occupation is also a shrewd motivator and a convenient way to put your time to good use.
  3. The more abundant a resource, the less wisely we spend it, and (especially in the 21st century) that has snowball effects. I remember in middle school, whenever I got a video game, I would immediately use the internet to look up cheat codes to unlock every aspect of the game. It didn't take me long to realize that after I used the cheat code, the game almost instantaneously lost its fulfillment value. Similarly, when I think about weekends on which I had no work, I don't end up doing all that much more than on weekends where I spend half my time in the office. I'm more careless about how I allocate my time! I sleep in a bit later, I watch a bit more TV, read a few more books, spend a few more minutes on Facebook, and go out an hour or two later. Invariably, the more time I have on my hands, the more pointless endeavors I undertake. And the problem is, everything in the 21st century is specifically designed to be addictive. Whether it's cigarettes, television, soda, World of Warcraft, or Tumblr, businesses have become ever more successful in consuming ever increasing amounts of your time. And the one weekend where you find yourself bored enough to create a Tumblr account (no offense to those who Tumbl), the more time in subsequent weekends you will spend on Tumblr. Your unproductiveness snowballs, and that kills your motivation.

This realization has forced me to focus on three core parts of my life, things that I believe are worth putting out there on the off chance that you find them useful. It's the best and only advice I can give from this:

  1. Find two things that you honestly consider to be productive uses of your time and force yourself to spend time on them every weekend. I think that you'll find that, ironically, by reducing your "free time", you actually finish the weekend feeling better about what you've accomplished.
  2. Realize that there are very few things in life that you really don't have the time to do. When was the last time you told your coworkers you couldn't go out for a drink because you had a prior commitment or had to wake up early, only to head straight home because you were too lazy to go out? I'm not saying that's a bad choice! I'm just pointing out that even if you work 80 hours a week, you still have a great deal of time on your hands. It's all about priorities.
  3. If you're counting the number of hours you work in a week, chances are you're just distracting yourself from the real issues you have with your job. Stop thinking about "work/life balance". Having more "free time" won't make you happy. Having a job to which you want to contribute and a life that you're enjoying every minute of will.

I'll leave you with a quote that I love from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Speaking to a group to hopeful tech entrepreneurs, Vaynerchuk was asked, "How you get money to do what you love?" He answered:

"You don't. If you want to work on something you love, you know what you have to do? Honestly? You have to work after hours. If you work 9-6, get home, kiss the dog, and go to town. STOP WATCHING F*****G LOST!"

I think we would all benefit from killing less of our free time.

---

I'd love to hear anyone else's take on this.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/4/13

+1...sums up the situation perfectly

IlliniProgrammer:
First off, it's not work-life balance. It's work-life trade-offs.

My view is that work-life balance is a production possibility curve in terms of income vs. free-time. During our first hour of free time every week, we might spend it at our kids' baseball games. Or we might spend it running important errands. Or maybe at church.

During our fiftieth hour of free time in a week, we might spend it in front of the TV. So there's this declining marginal value to us.

We work in a city- and an industry- of 70,80, even 100 hour workweeks. Our free-time is very precious and very valuable.

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." ~George Moore

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/4/13

IlliniProgrammer:
First off, it's not work-life balance. It's work-life trade-offs.

My view is that work-life balance is a production possibility curve in terms of income vs. free-time. During our first hour of free time every week, we might spend it at our kids' baseball games. Or we might spend it running important errands. Or maybe at church.

During our fiftieth hour of free time in a week, we might spend it in front of the TV. So there's this declining marginal value to us.

We work in a city- and an industry- of 70,80, even 100 hour workweeks. Our free-time is very precious and very valuable.

I agree with pretty much everything said here.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/4/13

Awesome post. Great motivation. Thanks!

2/4/13

When you are married to someone who also works 60+ hour weeks, the synchronized free time aspect comes into play. It's a question of not how much free time you have, but when you have the free time.

2/4/13

this is entirely true. I currently have so much free time that i dont even know what to do. I'm still in high school and play sports but still am bored on week days. Not saying i want more stuff to do, but i really have nothing better to do than sleep

2/5/13

B-, a garbled mish mash of 'just do what you love' and 'arbeit macht frei'

everyone complains about work-life balance regardless of their hours because most jobs just aren't that fun. even if you find your work relatively engaging, you would rather be elsewhere. plus most job environments are a great source of constant, low level stress, or they simply get stale after a while.

i tried watching the gary vaynerchuk video, but was disappointed to find that it was piss weak marketing material. for pretty obvious structural reasons, most of us cannot fashion careers out of our interests.

In reply to chimpout
2/5/13

chimpout:
everyone complains about work-life balance regardless of their hours because most jobs just aren't that fun. even if you find your work relatively engaging, you would rather be elsewhere.

You missed the primary point of the article, which is that the belief "if I were elsewhere, I would be more satisfied right now" may be misguided in and of itself.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/5/13

NorthSider:
chimpout:
everyone complains about work-life balance regardless of their hours because most jobs just aren't that fun. even if you find your work relatively engaging, you would rather be elsewhere.

You missed the primary point of the article, which is that the belief "if I were elsewhere, I would be more satisfied right now" may be misguided in and of itself.


maybe, but he hasn't exactly convinced me. it's not at all clear what his point really is
In reply to chimpout
2/5/13

chimpout:
maybe, but he hasn't exactly convinced me. it's not at all clear what his point really is

See:

Troublingly, I think this leads an erroneous conclusion: if I spend more time doing something, I will enjoy it more. This is the premise that causes us to believe that obtaining more "free time" would make us happier.

After some thought, I have come to doubt the truth of this proposition

chimpout:
a garbled mish mash of 'just do what you love' and 'arbeit macht frei'

I don't think that either of these sentiments are contained in the article.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/5/13

NorthSider:
chimpout:
maybe, but he hasn't exactly convinced me. it's not at all clear what his point really is

See:

Troublingly, I think this leads an erroneous conclusion: if I spend more time doing something, I will enjoy it more. This is the premise that causes us to believe that obtaining more "free time" would make us happier.

After some thought, I have come to doubt the truth of this proposition

chimpout:
a garbled mish mash of 'just do what you love' and 'arbeit macht frei'

I don't think that either of these sentiments are contained in the article.


*edit*

i don't get any coherent message apart from this essay

In reply to chimpout
2/5/13

chimpout:
*edit*

i don't get any coherent message apart from this essay

What part, then, is incoherent, given that I just illustrated the point of the article?

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/5/13

NorthSider:
chimpout:
*edit*

i don't get any coherent message apart from this essay

What part, then, is incoherent, given that I just illustrated the point of the article?


sure you did, chief.

ah, just noticed you're the op. don't be mad - it's a difficult question you're trying to answer.

In reply to chimpout
2/5/13

chimpout:
NorthSider:
chimpout:
*edit*

i don't get any coherent message apart from this essay

What part, then, is incoherent, given that I just illustrated the point of the article?


sure you did, chief.

ah, just noticed you're the op. don't be mad - it's a difficult question you're trying to answer.

I'm hardly mad. Just curious about this mysterious incoherence.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

2/6/13

It's not a "work/life balance" problem; it's a "I don't like my job" one.

In reply to NorthSider
2/6/13

I think Northsider's comments are very insightful.

One caveat though: in some cases, having more time is a contingent variable to participating in certain fun activities. For example, say I work 80 hours a week. I'd like to travel to the Galapagos Islands. Having more free time would enable me to take a two week vacation; having less free time would make this dream of mine, just a dream.

Otherwise, I think Northsider is spot-on.

2/6/13

Definitely learned something here. Thanks for the write-up.

2/7/13

Great post honestly one of the best reads in a while.

In reply to randomguy
2/7/13

randomguy:
Beautiful post. I was wondering the same thing. I used to be in M&A and I never had a problem working 70 hours a week. Its only when it gets to the 80+ range and of course the occasional 100 hour week did it really get to me since by then sleep gets affected.

But yeah work life balance isn't the challenge as much as work life satisfaction is!

This. 80 hours a week is sustainable for months on end, 100 simply isn't for more than 3-4 weeks even letting go of everything else, including sleep (add 5 hours to your totals if you don't live walking distance to your office).

That being said, you're assuming there are not other demands on your time coming in to the job (applies to many of us). People I know who are from the city or went to college here have more demands on their time and are more cranky when they can't meet them (family expects you to come to dinner Friday, college roommates birthdays, etc.)

Big benefit of consulting is more predictability of free time.

2/10/13

Very well written and good points. Sirtradesalot brings in the necessary caveat that priorities may/will change. Hat tip to him as well.

2/15/13

From the picture it's pretty clear that work wins out, 11 points to 7.

Nice post.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

In reply to NorthSider
2/18/13

NorthSider:
chimpout:
everyone complains about work-life balance regardless of their hours because most jobs just aren't that fun. even if you find your work relatively engaging, you would rather be elsewhere.

You missed the primary point of the article, which is that the belief "if I were elsewhere, I would be more satisfied right now" may be misguided in and of itself.

THIS. Total means to an end. Just to keep everyone chasing ....

2/25/13

Great article, thanks for sharing. It's something I worry about as well. I'm married, and don't currently work full time (by choice partially, but also by circumstance). I will be entering the full-time market soon, and it's something I worry about - I love spending time with my wife. But I also noticed that the times when we see each other less, we tend to be nicer, more caring, and more open to doing things we wouldn't necessarily want to do (like going to the Opera or something). It's an interesting one.

2/26/13

Northsider, I gather you do not have children yet :)

In reply to Ivan
2/26/13

Ivan:
Northsider, I gather you do not have children yet :)

Never will!

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
2/26/13

NorthSider:

Never will!

That's entirely up to you :) But I think you still get the idea why quite a few people are, let's say, concerned with free time :)

11/9/13

Wow,I read almost none of that just skimmed through it and the comments as well.Work/Life balance is for the masses it I think is a moral issue.In my opinion I could care less about being without family and friends for weeks/months i'd rather be at the top of everything than worry about my families issues.

Best

1/2/14

I get what you are going for, I think. You are trying to emphasize that when it comes to "work/life balance" many people take a "grass is greener" approach and assume that more free time will greatly increase their marginal happiness --- while this might not always be the case.

However, I think you take this too far, almost to the point of delusion. I suspect that many people in this thread have always been the Type A's doing all "the right things" to get to where they currently are, but failed to cultivate outside interests and hobbies that bring true pleasure.

In short, I think many workaholics forgot how to be happy, and equate their professional success with happiness, because it is such a large part of their personal identity.

I'd venture even further to say that most of these same people are probably not comfortable with being alone with their thoughts for this very reason. Being busy is not always indicative of genuine progress and the path to self-actualization.

Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

1/2/14

Where does success fall in all this?

"Not me. Im in my prime"

1/2/14

Is this the kind of stuff people in IBD write to make themselves feel better about spending 100 hrs a week in excel and powerpoint?

Its quite obvious that if you enjoy something, even if you are getting paid for it and "need to clock in" then it counts as part of life and not work in the work/life balance equation. Its actually not a balance, I hope that in my life i have a very unbalanced work/life balance, i.e. do as little work possible and do as much of the life part, which means getting paid to do something I enjoy.

The problem is, I find it VERY hard to believe the majority of IBD'ers, if they are really truly honest with themselves, would categorise those 100 hours a week as life and not work.

In reply to derivstrading
1/2/14

derivstrading:

Is this the kind of stuff people in IBD write to make themselves feel better about spending 100 hrs a week in excel and powerpoint?

Its quite obvious that if you enjoy something, even if you are getting paid for it and "need to clock in" then it counts as part of life and not work in the work/life balance equation. Its actually not a balance, I hope that in my life i have a very unbalanced work/life balance, i.e. do as little work possible and do as much of the life part, which means getting paid to do something I enjoy.

The problem is, I find it VERY hard to believe the majority of IBD'ers, if they are really truly honest with themselves, would categorise those 100 hours a week as life and not work.

One thing IBD does (at least, it did for me) is make me value and appreciate the life part MUCH more. Maybe in the past, with my free time I'd do a lot of what OP said (video games, TV, etc). In banking, I was in a new city with very limited free time. So every time I'd have a Saturday, I would get up, go explore, work out, try something new, go on an adventure, have fun! A free Saturday was unique and something I realized I didn't want to waste. Now, in PE, my lifestyle is slightly better but I've retained the appreciation for free time. Don't get me wrong, I'll still kill a Saturday watching 10 hours of college football, but for the most part I have a much better realization of how I am spending my free time and how to make the most out of the "life" part. That's one thing I feel is incredibly valuable that my banking years taught me.

In reply to FrankD'anconia
1/2/14

FrankD'anconia:

Completely agree with the OP. To me, free time was never enjoyed for what it "was", but for what it stood in contrast to. For example, the best weekends always came after horrible weeks because of the contrast. Take that exact same weekend and put it after a week that was great, and it just doesn't have the same feel to it. As silly as it sounds, I almost love working because of the way it makes me feel when I'm not. No work = no pleasure from the contrast of work. Best example I can think of is going to the gym. Nobody enjoys going to the gym per se (at least not if you're doing it right) but they love the feeling they get when they leave. And if you like THAT feeling enough, you eventually fool yourself into liking the process.

I waterboard myself every weekday for 16 hours. I guess it kinda sucks, but damn does it make my weekends feel good.

1/2/14

"Family. Friends. Religion. These are the demons you must slay to succeed in business!" -C Montgomery Burns

In all seriousness tho i for the most part agree with the OP...I have many friends who will call me a workaholic and then when i ask what they did last weekend its something like "watched three football games, drank a 12-pack, and cleaned my garage". I would rather be doing my job then doing that stuff...ok i enjoy the drinking but i can have a few drinks while i work anyway. In terms of "productive" hobbies such as reading or having sex (yes i do consider that a hobby that one needs to block off time for) I don't find i lack time for those things even with a big work schedule.

Also, I don't know about the banking/consulting thing because i was never in those worlds, but generally people are critical of others working too hard because human beings are sheep and most of them have a genuine biological urge to try to stop others who are stepping out of the norm in any way. Whether it is a job u r passionate about, changing your diet, or any other non-normal lifestyle choice you are going to get criticism. In fact I consider criticism a barometer to show me when I'm on the right track. So my guess is that most people touting their work/life balance are people justifying their own mediocrity and by making fun of you for working too hard they are essentially trying to get you to be mediocre also while making themselves feel better.

I guess its different if u have kids but i wouldn't know about that nor do i have any desire to learn in the near future...and BTW most of the shitt i get for working too hard does not come from married people with children suggesting i have kids.

1/2/14

Haha this article was written by a true banker, I think the best point that is touched on is work life satisfaction. I think that for most people, leisure time is important and there are a bunch of studies to back that up (not that happiness can be measured quantitatively... but thats another story). With that being said some people just love to grind out work. In my opinion, working that much just makes you a dull person and although time=money like the OP said, the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in once the hours get up there, but it does have its rewards.

An example I always use it: Is an IBD job with a 120K all in salary with an average of 80 hours a week (with a bunch of 100 hours and all nighters) better than making 80K all in for 50 hours a week and awesome benefits (nope not random numbers, numbers from my buds in IBD and finance in a silicon valley tech firm). Depends on the person I guess, no 2 sounds pretty good to me though.

I think that there are lots of ways to be productive outside of work whether it be personal fitness, productive hobby, volunteering etc which are a better use of time than just working.

1/2/14

Solid post.

I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.

1/2/14

Read through the entire thread, definitely worth it, some very interesting points made. Glad this post was bought back up to the front page

In reply to randomguy
1/2/14
1/3/14

To unlock this content for free, please login / register below.

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • LinkeIn
  • Twitter
Connecting helps us build a vibrant community. We'll never share your info without your permission. Sign up with email or if you are already a member, login here Bonus: Also get 6 free financial modeling lessons for free ($200+ value) when you register!
1/3/14
1/3/14

...

1/4/14
4/13/14
4/14/14

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

4/14/14

What's Your Opinion? Comment below:

Login or register to get credit (collect bananas).
All anonymous comments are unpublished until reviewed. No links or promotional material will be allowed. Most comments are published within 24 hours.
WallStreet Prep Master Financial Modeling