Is work-life balance overrated?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Work-life balance is something that I used to care a lot about but now am questioning that.

Quick context. I currently work in finance for a mega tech firm out in the west coast. My work-life balance is fantastic: 45 hour workweeks, no work on weekends, super casual work environment, laid back team, nice people. However, I'm bored and feel like I'm not at where I need to be. I look at friends who pursued rigorous jobs at top banks, consulting firms, etc. Yes, they work pretty grueling hours, but when I ask them about how they are handling it, no one regrets their career choice. They are making great money, find the work interesting, and know that it's setting them up for life. One friend recently switched from F500 corporate finance to megafund PE, and he said he's never been happier despite working 80 hours/week.

This make me wonder whether work-life balance is overrated. Is money, prestige, and demanding but interesting job, more important than just the sheer hours worked?

Comments (65)

Best Response
Oct 31, 2017

Classic case of grass is greener. Pursuing IB because you want a grueling schedule is just retarded.

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Oct 31, 2017

People that typically pursue incredibly intensive career paths know that they want that sort of lifestyle. They are willing to live without a work life balance due to a certain level of passion or drive, and nothing would replace that.

As @iBankedUp" said, feeling bored is not an adequate reasons to shift from a lax (relative to the other career opportunities mentioned) work schedule to one that is incredibly demanding. 99% of the people on here will tell you that a work life balance at a certain age, for a certain period of time, is in fact, overrated. The concept is all relative.

It sounds to me like your life seems unfulfilled or somewhat empty, and you are looking for work to fill the void. Your friends that you reference have been so busy that they never had a second to even question what boredom/emptiness is like or entails, which is both a blessing and a curse.

My advice: Work your 45 hour a week job and on top of that, start a side hustle or something beneficial. Whether it is trading, continuing education (probably redundant, you're in Bus school apparently), or learning about one of these more competitive industries, give it a shot. I always doubted my ability to work hard and long enough to do IB or PE or what have you, so this past summer I took on two internships, and a number of classes. With that schedule, I was constantly exhausted, never had free time, but didn't regret it for a second. It was a life altering moment, and for the first time in my life I felt like I could push past any obstacle. If you can find some way to test whether or not a more rigorous career path would be beneficial and fulfilling to you, I advise you to take it. That way you're not working 90+ hours a week at a boutique suffering through heart palpitations simply because you thought more work would entail a greater sense of fufillment.

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Nov 1, 2017

life advice from a college student...

Nov 1, 2017

Not really. In the real world, people go into really crappy work/life balance careers because they're driven by one of two things a) money or b) power. Or both. . That's why you encounter so many lovely human beings in finance.

The work that investment banking entails is absolutely mind numbing - no one does it because "they want that sort of lifestyle". Not even the sickest psychopath prefers cranking in microsoft office over lounging on the couch with a 6 pack

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Oct 31, 2017

It's only "overrated" if you don't use your free time to pursue anything interesting or rewarding. The people I know in the rigorous careers you describe didn't regret their decisions, sure, but most of them reasoned that they were making a short term sacrifice to set up an exit, and sure enough within 2 years the vast majority transitioned to less intense roles.
Some were burned out, some decided it wasn't a good long term fit, some were weeded out, some found access to their endgame industries, and some wanted to start families/get on with their lives.

I've seen both sides of it-when I had an easier schedule I did all sorts of fun stuff outside of work, and now that I work a boatload of hours I enjoy it because my team, firm, work, and industry are all great. And it's nice to check in on a growing bank account you haven't got the time to drain! That said, some days I'm really worn down and I'm not sure I could maintain this pace beyond a couple of years.

So the standard warnings apply: YMMV and be careful what you wish for. But if you find yourself bored w/ a 45 hour a week schedule it certainly isn't the job's fault; you should be doing things you enjoy during your free time.

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Nov 1, 2017

+1

I completely agree.

If Rufus1234 isn't growing, doesn't find the work challenging, why be there? Sure, the money's good, but that can be found just about anywhere.

It sounds like Rufus1234 has nothing to balance work with. No "life" win work/life balance. Not to say he has no life, but there is no tension, nothing that is pulling him away from work.

It sounds like Rufus1234 isn't married, doesn't have kids, and doesn't volunteer at a local charity. That life sounds so . . . empty.

If Rufus1234 finds fulfillment in his occupation, he doesn't need those other things. But what do you, dear reader, want your tombstone to say? "Overachieving Financial Genius"? Or something else?

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Nov 1, 2017

Similar situation but different industry and different coast. Personally, I think it's entirely dependent on the person. Trade-offs are inescapable. You can lead a relaxed life filled with savoring or an intense one focused on accomplishment. The people who are the happiest are the ones who understand their individual nature and pursue a life that's consistent with it.

For me, having command of my time has always been paramount; it's the currency I value my life in. That being said, if it's not working for you then you should pursue something different.

EDIT: After some additional thought I'm going to append my original answer. Based on your particular circumstances, dissatisfaction with your location, social environment, and cultural milieu could be the source of some of your career angst. Like deflected pain in the body, perhaps these factors are manifesting themselves as disillusionment in your professional life. As many others have already eloquently stated, how you feel towards your work-life balance, especially when you squarely occupy the balance side, will be determined by the quality of your life outside of work.

In your current circumstances, work-life balance could certainly be overprized. But a change in location or a change in circumstances may be a better remedy than willfully sacrificing your free-time before getting the opportunity to truly relish it. Lastly, I'd caution you that peoples' self-reported happiness/satisfaction can be a fickle and unreliable barometer. Your friend might be happier post transition, but it may just be an ephemeral honey-moon phase that will only last until the novelty wears off.

All just food for thought.

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Oct 31, 2017

haha. I am in similar boat mentally, hence my pursuit of a top mba program, despite the huge opp / financial costs of pursuing it. I am in late 20's now and I feel like I really under-performed my potential career-wise so far. I am one of those dudes with decent raw intellect (got 34 on my ACT back in high school, went to target undergrad), but I was never a gunner and never tried hard back in college. I was just too focused on hanging with friends, getting drunk, playing sports, or chasing after girls. I subsequently ended up in some really horrible jobs (back office) after college. Somehow I am still making over 100k, working like 35 hours a week. I enjoyed my 20's on doing many fun things, meeting people, and all that free time I had working this chill back-office job allowed me to make social connections outside work and ultimately led to opportunities where I got to meet my wife, who's the love of my life.

That being said, I just got my gmat score (750, yay!) and I'm looking to apply to top b-schools. as I get older, I no longer care about work/ life 'balance', or 'fun things outside work' as much as I used to. I just want to make sure that I learn the most, work the hardest, and progress the most within the career I am passionate about, so that I won't have much regrets later on. You get to live only once - might as well maximize your talents and potential, doing things / jobs that challenge you.

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Nov 1, 2017
Rejected Monkey:

haha. I am in similar boat mentally, hence my pursuit of a top mba program, despite the huge opp / financial costs of pursuing it. I am in late 20's now and I feel like I really under-performed my potential career-wise so far. I am one of those dudes with decent raw intellect (got 34 on my ACT back in high school, went to target undergrad), but I was never a gunner and never tried hard back in college. I was just too focused on hanging with friends, getting drunk, playing sports, or chasing after girls. I subsequently ended up in some really horrible jobs (back office) after college. Somehow I am still making over 100k, working like 35 hours a week. I enjoyed my 20's on doing many fun things, meeting people, and all that free time I had working this chill back-office job allowed me to make social connections outside work and ultimately led to opportunities where I got to meet my wife, who's the love of my life.

That being said, I just got my gmat score (750, yay!) and I'm looking to apply to top b-schools. as I get older, I no longer care about work/ life 'balance', or 'fun things outside work' as much as I used to. I just want to make sure that I learn the most, work the hardest, and progress the most within the career I am passionate about, so that I won't have much regrets later on. You get to live only once - might as well maximize your talents and potential, doing things / jobs that challenge you.

Seems to me like you did it "right". Enjoyed your 20s, built your network, chased experiences, met your wife, and taking a 6 figure gig into B-school, where a 2-year vacation awaits.

You'll likely do some stressful shyt for a bit-but assuming the usual life stuff happens (kids, your spouse decides she wants to go to grad school, too or chase her dream career), you'll do your 2-3 years and then shift into something that favors better work-life, albeit at a higher level than you're currently at.

Of course my predictive powers tend to suck. You might find you love the 16 hour days as much as I do. Someone's got to survive the attrition to make Partner/MD/Principal. Private school and mortgages aren't cheap!

Congrats and enjoy

Nov 1, 2017

TheGrind is right that it's all relative and specific to the person and the situation. Work life balance, simply for the sake of it and not without plans of how to maximize the "life" part, is generally bad. Similarly, really demanding jobs without being thoughtful about doing something you'll enjoy, find interesting, and that provides a path to a longer term plan is also generally bad.

The fact of the matter is, I think most people feel like you. I did before business school and before getting a much more demanding job afterwards, that's because most free time is wasted. My buddies still hitting 1oak on Thursdays and getting drunk during monday night football all feel shitty half the time, but they don't know what else to do with their time. If you maximize that time, aren't just watching tv or drinking, are being productive, have side projects, spend quality time with your family, etc then it can be very valuable to have more work life balance. In fact, that was one of the things that changed the most when I started working a lot more, I was much better at maximizing what little free time I had.

Likewise, there are a lot of rudderless people in demanding jobs that are miserable. I, personally, really enjoy it and will likely do it for awhile, but I also have a long term plan and an exit that I'm thinking about, and I know this gets me there if things go well, so I'm working towards something. I also made sure to work with people I really enjoyed, not just focus on things like "prestige" when picking a firm, and did well enough to stand up and try and pick what projects I work on. So being targeted and thoughtful on where I work and what I work on significantly shaped how happy I am at this job.

At the end of the day, it's a specific thing that is relative to each person's context. But the best advice I can give is be thoughtful about what you do and where you do it at, have long term plans, and maximize the utility of your free time no matter how abundant it is.

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Nov 1, 2017
AllDay_028:

TheGrind is right that it's all relative and specific to the person and the situation. Work life balance, simply for the sake of it and not without plans of how to maximize the "life" part, is generally bad. Similarly, really demanding jobs without being thoughtful about doing something you'll enjoy, find interesting, and that provides a path to a longer term plan is also generally bad.

The fact of the matter is, I think most people feel like you. I did before business school and before getting a much more demanding job afterwards, that's because most free time is wasted. My buddies still hitting 1oak on Thursdays and getting drunk during monday night football all feel shitty half the time, but they don't know what else to do with their time. If you maximize that time, aren't just watching tv or drinking, are being productive, have side projects, spend quality time with your family, etc then it can be very valuable to have more work life balance. In fact, that was one of the things that changed the most when I started working a lot more, I was much better at maximizing what little free time I had.

Likewise, there are a lot of rudderless people in demanding jobs that are miserable. I, personally, really enjoy it and will likely do it for awhile, but I also have a long term plan and an exit that I'm thinking about, and I know this gets me there if things go well, so I'm working towards something. I also made sure to work with people I really enjoyed, not just focus on things like "prestige" when picking a firm, and did well enough to stand up and try and pick what projects I work on. So being targeted and thoughtful on where I work and what I work on significantly shaped how happy I am at this job.

At the end of the day, it's a specific thing that is relative to each person's context. But the best advice I can give is be thoughtful about what you do and where you do it at, have long term plans, and maximize the utility of your free time no matter how abundant it is.

You and TheGrind made excellent points. My issue is the following:

  1. I'm in a city I utterly despise, which is at odds with my core values, character, and interests. I discussed this in another thread so won't get into it here.
  2. I'm single and have no intention on marrying or having kids. Hence, free time is not as valuable to me. And lot of my friends are now married or heading down that path, so the days of fucking around with your bros is more or less over.
  3. I'm utterly bored at work. I don't find tech interesting at all. Moreover, at the big tech firms, finance is not a central decision maker, which really bothers me, as I feel like a second-class citizen at times.
  4. I had a volatile "non-traditional" career path before the MBA, so I have a big chip on my shoulders about not landing the type of finance job I wanted. This bothers me immensely, and it gnaws at me daily, even when I'm at work.
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Nov 2, 2017
Rufus1234:
AllDay_028:

TheGrind is right that it's all relative and specific to the person and the situation. Work life balance, simply for the sake of it and not without plans of how to maximize the "life" part, is generally bad. Similarly, really demanding jobs without being thoughtful about doing something you'll enjoy, find interesting, and that provides a path to a longer term plan is also generally bad.

The fact of the matter is, I think most people feel like you. I did before business school and before getting a much more demanding job afterwards, that's because most free time is wasted. My buddies still hitting 1oak on Thursdays and getting drunk during monday night football all feel shitty half the time, but they don't know what else to do with their time. If you maximize that time, aren't just watching tv or drinking, are being productive, have side projects, spend quality time with your family, etc then it can be very valuable to have more work life balance. In fact, that was one of the things that changed the most when I started working a lot more, I was much better at maximizing what little free time I had.

Likewise, there are a lot of rudderless people in demanding jobs that are miserable. I, personally, really enjoy it and will likely do it for awhile, but I also have a long term plan and an exit that I'm thinking about, and I know this gets me there if things go well, so I'm working towards something. I also made sure to work with people I really enjoyed, not just focus on things like "prestige" when picking a firm, and did well enough to stand up and try and pick what projects I work on. So being targeted and thoughtful on where I work and what I work on significantly shaped how happy I am at this job.

At the end of the day, it's a specific thing that is relative to each person's context. But the best advice I can give is be thoughtful about what you do and where you do it at, have long term plans, and maximize the utility of your free time no matter how abundant it is.

You and TheGrind made excellent points. My issue is the following:

  1. I'm in a city I utterly despise, which is at odds with my core values, character, and interests. I discussed this in another thread so won't get into it here.
  2. I'm single and have no intention on marrying or having kids. Hence, free time is not as valuable to me. And lot of my friends are now married or heading down that path, so the days of fucking around with your bros is more or less over.
  3. I'm utterly bored at work. I don't find tech interesting at all. Moreover, at the big tech firms, finance is not a central decision maker, which really bothers me, as I feel like a second-class citizen at times.
  4. I had a volatile "non-traditional" career path before the MBA, so I have a big chip on my shoulders about not landing the type of finance job I wanted. This bothers me immensely, and it gnaws at me daily, even when I'm at work.

Listen, I get it, I think I have a good grasp on your story after a few of your posts. I think you have to realize that

1) Maximizing free time doesn't doesn't necessarily mean spending it with family. I'm not a "family" guy either, I have a fiance but we both work long hours in the industry and are going to do the DINK life. I'm, right now, trying to become more well read on a classics I missed because I had a shitty education growing up in the ass crack of nowhere. I've also been volunteering with underprivileged youth in the city and am on a board trying to push for better low income education opportunities. Lastly, I am trying to position myself to maybe start something on my own. Do I also spend too much time drinking wine and watching shitty movies with my fiance? Sure, but you need some of that on life. It's not that I do the best job maximizing my time out of work or spend it with family all the time (I'm sure others do a lot better), it's that I have a few specific goals in mind that I'm working towards, and even if one of those goals is something stupid like finally reading Hemingway, I think it's helpful and achieving that goal is personally fulfilling. So whatever your goals may be, just having them will help you feel more fulfilled and accomplished when you do.

2) I absolutely get feeling upset/let down about/not fulfilled based on the fact you didn't get the job you want(ed). And on top of that, not liking your city and firm. But you have to understand that missing out on that buyside post MBA recruiting (or whatever you wanted) and ending up in big tech is something that already happened, it's not something you can change. What you can change is your life going forward. You are unhappy in Seattle? Actively look to move and acquire skills to help you move. You obviously have a good background and some skills, so use them to work for you and get yourself where you want to go. You can't change the past, so dwelling on it is doing nothing positive for you. You can change the future, so start thinking about how you can change it so you aren't in the same place. Get out of Seattle, get out of tech, try your own venture, etc. These are all things you can control, so grab life by the balls a bit and I promise you, as long as you are working towards those goals that you've identified that will improve your life, you'll be less bored at work and more excited about how you're working towards your exit.

Also, lastly, as an aside. Finance isn't the decision maker in industry anywhere, it's not just tech, so if that's a big issue for you but you like tech, move to a different part of the organisation.

This is all just my 2 cents and what I've found to be true, but I'm just a guy on the internet.

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Nov 2, 2017

Just my $0.02.....but bro, seriously, get out of there for your own sake. Sometimes certain cities/regions just don't click with certain people and there's nothing wrong with that. I think if you get out of there it will immensely make a difference for you. I know I lived somewhere I hated for a while, and it impacted everything else around me. I got out of there as quick as humanly possible.

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Nov 1, 2017

why not have both? if you have excess free time then spend it thinking about new ideas for work, positioning yourself for an internal move to a more interesting role like strat, product, or m&a, idea generation, or taking on more responsibilities which will ultimately result in you advancing quicker than your colleagues.

and how did your friend go from corpfin to megafund PE?? assuming hes on the investment team and not back office...

Nov 1, 2017

At my BB I saw a lot of senior bankers I didn't want to be like in 10 years. Being single, hyper-stressed, bending over backwards for clients, and having no life outside the office wasn't what I wanted by the time I hit my mid 30's. I moved to MM PE and work an average of ~60 hours a week (though it's variable based on deal flow and can go up to 80), and I'm a lot happier than my constant 90-100 hours a week days in banking. That being said it was worth it to do banking for 2 years to land a good PE job. Just wouldn't do it a day more than I had to.

That being said, I don't see a big difference between 40 and 60 hours a week. As long as weekends are generally free, the difference between working to 5pm versus 7 or 8 isn't huge. At a certain point a work day is a work day, and as long as I'm not constantly exhausted when I get home it doesn't really matter.

One thing I wish I had more of is vacation time. I have the money to travel the world multiple times a year, but I only have 3 weeks of vacation so fitting in more than one international trip a year is tough (given winter holidays basically automatically are getting a week of my vacation).

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Nov 1, 2017

You should consider an MBA if you have money and no time for vacations. That would be what I'd do if I were in your shoes.

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Nov 1, 2017
zMaverick:

That being said, I don't see a big difference between 40 and 60 hours a week. As long as weekends are generally free, the difference between working to 5pm versus 7 or 8 isn't huge. At a certain point a work day is a work day, and as long as I'm not constantly exhausted when I get home it doesn't really matter.

Your opinion on this statement will change drastically if you ever have kids. It's awful when you dont see your baby because he sleeps from 7-7.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Nov 1, 2017

What's the point of having kids

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Nov 1, 2017

A work life balance allows one to develop interests and knowledge outside of work leading to a better and more well rounded person which can in turn help further a career in a number of ways.

Nov 1, 2017

Work life balance is incredibly important to people who have families. The fact that I can eat dinner with my kids every night and still go to their baseball/soccer practices and games is amazing. Pair that with a good salary and the opportunity to live in a nice area with good schools, and your free time is worth every last second.

I know it is cliche, but living in a big house in the suburbs with great schools and neighbors and friends who share similar values is a big win on the quality of life I experience. It may not be big-city downtown living with cool cultural events and really unique restaurants, but I have access to that whenever I want to get a babysitter and drive downtown.

Right now, the satisfaction that I get out of being home more often than I am at work is invaluable to me. If you are only working 45 hours a week at a decent-paying job and don't have a family, then you should have time for some pretty amazing hobbies. Try branching out besides going to the gym and playing video games.

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Nov 1, 2017

Over the past few years, I've transitioned to be in the exact same scenario....it's actually pretty awesome. I still work hard and there are still nights I dont see my kids (the occasional travel or late night), but overall I feel like I've found/earned the perfect balance for me.

It was pretty awesome this summer to head out at 430 to go watch my 4 year old's t-ball games. His reaction to me getting there was always priceless

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Nov 1, 2017

This is exactly what I was wondering when I was making my decision between a bulge bracket bank VS a somewhat cushy financial services job, 80+ hours VS 50 hours, very good pay VS decent pay, better exits VS a lack of exits.

I really enjoy my free time, but in retrospect, all I do is go travelling (without actually experiencing anything new or exciting or actually worth doing), play video games, buy useless garbage, hang out in the same places that I've been my whole life, and do nonconstructive stuff that adds no value and has very little purpose. Of course, you don't need to quantify and find value in relaxation, but as a young person (lets say early to mid 20s), I couldn't justify taking more time to myself when I am not married, and won't be doing anything meaningful with the extra time.

The problem with working 45 hours probably isn't about the job, its just that you don't have too many hobbies or past-times (not in an offensive way).

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Nov 1, 2017

When are people finally going to get that life is not a bout a trade off.

You can have a brilliant work and a brilliant life experience.

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Nov 2, 2017

I don't understand why this poster got MS because I completely agree with him.

It's not about Work/Life Balance it's about Work/Life Optimization... I would say just figure out what kind of life you want and whether you are willing to deal with the attendant shit that it comes with (because every decision you make comes with shit attached whether you decide to be a ski bum or an ibd slave)... then optimize every area of your life outside of it.

This is by no means easy. It requires you to have a clear understanding of reality (which most people don't) and a clear understanding of yourself- I.e. You need to have a very deep, fundamental knowledge of what you want out of life and why you want it. It requires you asking yourself hard questions and, depending on the answers to those questions, being comfortable with doing things that stray from the norm/the herd.

Work/Life Balance is a mindset for people who mostly hate or dislike their job so they have to BALANCE it out with Life that they enjoy. If you don't mind working at a job you hate for money then w/l balance is a fantastic mindset and you should work on optimizing the shit out of your time out of the office. However, most people don't even ask themselves the fundamental questions that can lead them to making these decisions comfortably. I, personally, can't imagine working long-term at a job I dislike. I'm not throwing shit at IB because it is a stepping stone and that's fine but the amount of people on a long-term track in IB who burn out because they hate it and yet never took the effort to research alternative career paths is astounding. I still don't understand why they wouldn't just move to something like institutional sales at an AM and strive to become MD while comfortably working 9-5 and making $1mm a year at MD level.

I've seen miserable people working every stratum of 35-80 hours a week. I've also seen those people waste away their outside of office hours in various ways and I've also heard them talk about work/life balance. It's a BS game. Be better than that.

Caveat: I'm not in debt and I don't have kids. However, I think my argument above still holds if you are in debt as long as the answers to your fundamental questions still involve making a lot of money which I'm sure for a lot of people on this site that's the case. I can't begin to give advice on those with kids but the mentors I've had in my life that I've most respected have always had the ability to optimize fantastic careers while also being there for their kids. I don't think it's mutually exclusive.

P.S. Some other people have mentioned that even the most insane psycho would prefer sitting on a couch with a six pack to working. I don't disagree that that is the most comfortable option. However, most people confuse comfort for happiness. I don't think that is the option that will make most people happy in the long run. It will be the optimal/happiest decision for some people however.

Nov 1, 2017

On the contrary, work/life balance is incredibly under-rated. Especially in America.

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Nov 1, 2017

I'll repeat what everyone has already said here. It kind of depends on how you want ot live your life. Work life balance isn't overrated if you have a family or have hobbies that you want to pursue actively.

Other people care less about that stuff and really enjoy working hard. If you don't care to travel a ton or learn how to dance, play an instrument, play a sport, etc, picking a job that requires more of your time might be a better choice.

If you're at a 45/hour a week job and feel like you want more to do, develop another skill, appreciate that you have time to stay fit, be healthy, create new relationships etc, and use those things to feel like you're working a 60+ hour week.

When it comes down to it, time is your most important asset, so figure out a way to use that time doing whatever makes you the happiest. For some thats 80+ hours a week in banking/consulting to get to a point where they can work less but still be in a high paying and intellectually stimulating role. For others that might be working 40 hours a week in more of a steady advancement, but getting time along the way to do things outside of work.

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Nov 1, 2017

Mid to late 20's here -

Looking back, I wish I could've had the opportunity to do the IB stint working 80-100 hour weeks, but for 2-3 years MAX. I see those ultra stressed out single 40-50 year old men all the time and I can see they're depressed and dead inside.

No way could I go to that lifestyle now. I enjoy my free time with friends and girlfriend. Comp isn't IB level but I still do alright.

Nov 1, 2017

45 hours? holy fuck, that is a SUPER light week. Are you sure you don't live in France? Work is my life; Life is my work. That's pretty much all I have to say about this fancy luxury thing you call "work-life balance!" :)

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Nov 1, 2017

In consulting, work life balance is highly unpredictable. Can be staffed on a coast to coast project for months straight (10-12 hours flight time, plus travel time to and from hotels). Factor in the time difference plus still having to put in 60+ hours that week, it can be hell. Some colleagues on the other hand get remote projects and work remotely for months. I still think working 80 hours and being local and not having to travel beats being in consulting.

Nov 1, 2017

Work-life balance is one of those things you don't appreciate until the scale is tipped all the way to the work side. I work ~40 hours per week, make right about double my city's median income (not a massive city, of course), have 4 weeks vacation a year, and really appreciate having balance. Maybe if I had a job I was in love with, the 50 or 60 hour weeks would be fine. But consistently leaving the office around 5 and never working weekends leaves time for hobbies and interests.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the gig I have and don't take it for granted. For any college students here who think the long weeks won't matter because you'll be making bank and partying with models and bottles, that could very well be true, some people love it. But, when you are locked into a desk for 40-60 hours/week, you are going to want some balance, or at least really, really like what you do.

Nov 1, 2017

There's outstanding advice up and down the thread for certain. I'd echo what everyone has said in that it really depends on your goals, and depends specifically on your goals as they relate to your current situation. My personal reason for going into banking didn't have to do with the rigor so much as not really knowing what to do with life and understanding that M&A would expose you to many different industries/companies, and the execution skills are a useful skill to have if I decided to leave after the analyst years.

Your position is certainly enviable. You're presumably making respectable earnings, working 45 hours a week, and have ample time to pursue your hobbies and life outside work. The decision of whether to move over to banking/consulting/other would really depend on what you are looking to do. Move into a senior corporate development role at a F500? Perhaps an MBA + 2-4 years in banking would be advantageous. If you want to get to a senior level within your company? I think you can continue working up the organization, getting a part time MBA and seeing if the company will pay for it. This route would also be good for you if you are looking to start a family in the near future :)

There are definitely many reasons to go into the industries you listed out (though they still require a top MBA in most cases). If it's solely because the extra rigor/prestige are appealing, or because of testimony from folks and friends, it might not be prudent. What was best for them may not necessarily be best for you, and you might find that the move was a terrible one for you that made you feel miserable in the process. Once you figure out the underlying reason for why moving makes sense for your unique situation, then I think it should become a more easier decision for you to make.

On work life balance it really is one of those things that can easily be taken for granted. Working 60+ hours a week in a job often doesn't leave you much time to do anything else, and that in itself is a sacrifice. Going from a place where you are working and leaving the office at 5/6 pm to one where you are working significantly longer and unpredictable hours sounds like a difficult transition, particularly if you don't like the work that you do. Far easier in the opposite case of course

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Nov 2, 2017

You have 86,400 seconds in a day. Invest them. Spend those seconds doing things that will garner the largest return.

As we age and grow, our appetite for investment changes, our risk acceptance and time horizons - our priorities in life and our general sense of where we want to be changes in the same way.

You are looking to invest your extra time into a new career which you think will have a higher return down the line. IMO, you aren't wrong. However, have you considered investing what minutes you do have now into your own development, finding what interests you now, before throwing your arms up and changing everything for something that MIGHT be interesting to you.

So many people think the Life part of Work-Life balance is supposed to be just hanging with friends, going out, watching netflix, etc. Who said the Life part can't be your own projects to generate cash flow, increase your knowledge, work - for all intent and purpose - just personal work.

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Nov 2, 2017

Really important topic and a lot of great perspectives so far.

Personally, I think it can be hard to be thoughtful about work-life balance before you've really had yours screwed up (i.e. easy to imagine that working all those hours won't bother you at all b/c you're a "hard worker"). And once you're "in the trenches", that mentality can become even more normalized. After all, you're spending the vast majority of your time with other bankers/consultants/etc. who pretty much live the same way (and it doesn't necessarily get much better as you move up).

The importance of work-life balance becomes more clear after you've left that environment and begin to realize that all those skipped gym sessions and canceled plans add up and can have a toll beyond that one night or weekend.

That's all to say that I wouldn't switch to a "more rigorous" job just because you think work-life balance is overrated so you might as well be working. That being said sacrificing some "personal time" can be a great move if you find the work interesting/enjoyable, or if it puts you on your desired career path, or even if you're doing it for the financial perks. Switching primarily because you're discounting work-life balance doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

To the extent that you're happy with your current job, there are so many rewarding things you could be pursuing outside of work to take advantage of that time, a lot of which other users have commented on.

It's just a matter of priorities. Obviously want to work hard and that comes with some trade-offs, but it'd probably be helpful to really think about what you find most rewarding, both professionally and personally

Nov 2, 2017

i think it 100% depends on the person and his/her individual situation, no right answer here

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Nov 3, 2017

I had an "aha moment" recently. Up until age 18, I went to school and lived a life according to my parents. College +2 years after, I lived my life however I wanted. At work, I have to live a life according to my boss and my wife, say until I'm 65 if I live that long.

Aside from those 7 years around college, I'm not living a life according to me. That's a slaves life. That's a shitty life. Does work-life balance matter? Depends on how much shackling you want.

Nov 3, 2017

Maybe all those people who are working such grueling schedules are doing it so that they can earn enough now and then retire early. The money is great, after all so make hay while the sun shines, something like that.

Nov 4, 2017

Find what makes you happy.

Nov 4, 2017

I am narrow minded here. I legitimately find it hard to believe that anyone who is working 80 hours a week is feeling fulfilled unless they are very much defined by their work or have started said work. Either that or the paycheck really helps nurse those 80 hour work weeks.

Nov 5, 2017

I used to eat, breathe and sleep "work life balance". My mentality really changed the last few months or so. I have the mentality now that there has to be opportunity or money. If a role only pays well, then I'm in at 8am and out at 4pm. But if opportunity exists, most likely the job is interesting to me and work life balance doesn't matter. If you can find a job with both money and opportunity, then bravo. If it has neither, then why are you there lol.

Unfortunately, the role I'm in is not interesting to me anymore and I find myself twiddling my thumbs most of the day. The only release is when I get home and can focus on what interests me.

I'm focusing on either going back to school or finding a role I'm passionate about and has opportunity.

Nov 5, 2017

It's not overrated//// it's just very hard to get it so perfect!

Nov 5, 2017

Sounds like you need to make some moves at work in terms of upward mobility or increased responsibility. Is your career path truly stalled out or are you just placing blame to cover up a lack of motivation?

Talk to your supervisor about your workload in a way that shows you are meeting your existing performance expectations consistently and would like to take on additional work. Are there special projects, strategic efforts, or other initiatives you can take on? Quiet mouths don't get fed.

Otherwise, learn something new that will expand your opportunities. Take advantage of your positive work-life balance and use that time to learn a new skill like programming, modeling, or some other skill that would be beneficial to your current role, show your management that you've got capacity for learning, and probably enable you to obtain higher pay.

Life is about working smarter, not harder. Longer hours don't translate to higher pay. If you can't find something to do that is a step up in responsibility & advances your career, I question your effort. If your company truly has no opportunities to advance your career, I question the company and say it's time to look elsewhere.

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Nov 14, 2017

It's all a matter of choices, what's important is to know what you really want and go for it.

Nov 14, 2017

you could just work hard/play hard and have no downtime in your 20s

Nov 14, 2017

"slow and steady wins the race" gets me thinking. Thus far I've been racing ahead for early retirement.

Nov 14, 2017

I really think it all depends on the person, some people have no problem working every non-waking hour, others feel like its soul crushing and flee for other industries after a few years.

I personally value social interaction more than sleep and find balance in other ways... for me to not go out I have to work past 1AM. On a weekend, I don't care what time it is, Ill go out at 3AM if thats when I get out of work.

Everyone is different though, not everyone can go out hard till 4-5 AM and still function at work the next morning.

Nov 14, 2017
Marcus_Halberstram:

I personally value social interaction more than sleep and find balance in other ways... for me to not go out I have to work past 1AM. On a weekend, I don't care what time it is, Ill go out at 3AM if thats when I get out of work.

Everyone is different though, not everyone can go out hard till 4-5 AM and still function at work the next morning.

Damn kid you need to get more sleep. You're going to have a heart attack by age 30.

Nov 14, 2017

As long as he doesn't eat the diet most Bankers do he'll be fine.

Nov 14, 2017

Are you guys greying? Balding? Getting really fat?

Aside from the last one, which is typical of everyone once they get into a sedentary, office environment, I would be interested to hear about whether you see significant signs of aging in yourself/ your coworkers. I know a few people who are 20 (my year), who are already suffering some hairloss/have some silver strands peppering their heads, and its quite a surprise! Not sure how much of it hasd to do with stress vs. genetics however.

Nov 14, 2017

Analysts get really fat... unless you exercise. Those $35 dinner allowances don't help either especially during pooling sessions for huge sushi boats, lol

Nov 14, 2017

I'm starting to go gray but I think it has more to do with genetics than my lifestyle since I have older siblings living very different lifestyles that started going gray at a similar age.

I eat healthily and try to work out as often as my schedule permits so I'm in pretty good shape. Pretty lean and definitely not fat. The one downside to this kind of lifestyle is that adequate rest is essential to recovering post workout... so thats a downside. But I work 75-100+ hours a week and go out anywhere from 2-6 times during the week, so its a price you have to pay.

Nov 14, 2017

I prefer the salt and pepper look

Nov 14, 2017

Pot

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Nov 14, 2017

I wish I only did 13 hours a day.

Also Saturday is generally more mellow than Sunday but that's nitpicking.

Drink a few beers? Socialize? Pretty normal stuff tbh.

Nov 14, 2017
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Nov 14, 2017
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Nov 14, 2017
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