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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.

37 1

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Comments (140)

  • anacott steal's picture

    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.

  • computerized's picture

    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.

  • tangent style's picture

    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"

  • Gatsby17's picture

    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.

  • randomguy's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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."

  • APAE's picture

    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

  • Scorpion's picture

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

  • cibo's picture

    Stockholm syndrome at it's finest.

  • Asatar's picture

    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.

  • samoanboy's picture

    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.

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  • GoodBread's picture

    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."

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    Your perspective will change when you have kids.

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

    MY BLOG

  • mikesswimn's picture

    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
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    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
    Rudi Carell's picture

    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)

  • bargabarga's picture

    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.

  • lasampdoria's picture

    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

  • Hayek's picture

    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.

  • 1337's picture

    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.

  • Kenny Powers's picture

    This is incredibly insightful, amazing post.

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

  • In reply to SirTradesaLot
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    mikesswimn's picture

    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
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    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

  • In reply to 1337
    Rudi Carell's picture

    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)

  • LBT's picture

    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.

  • yeahright's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    UFOinsider's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    mikesswimn's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    mikesswimn's picture

    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."

  • Gogoplata's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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."

  • Billy Beane's picture

    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
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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."

  • NewGuy's picture

    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
    NorthSider's picture

    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
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    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.

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  • In reply to SirTradesaLot
    NorthSider's picture

    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."

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