The Guy Who Loved His Work

(or Why A Healthy Work-Life Balance Is Important)

During the dot com boom I worked at a company with a developer who loved his work. The problems were challenging, and we really valued the things he produced. Everyone who worked late late got dinner, and sometimes he’d work so late that he ended up sleeping by his desk. Bob (not his real name) wasn’t pushed to do this. He just really liked his job.

After about five years the dot com crash hit. A third of the company was laid off. Then another third of the company was laid off. Then everyone left was laid off and all the assets were sold to IBM.

Bob was left with a five year gap in his life. He had nothing to show for that time. No real relationships. No software he could point to. It had disappeared into the bowels of IBM. I assume he became a better programmer during this time, but everything else suffered.

Bob could have been spending those hours writing cool software for himself. He could have been helping open source projects that were important to him. He could have spent time with the people he cared about. He could have found new people to care about. He could have been falling in love.

Day after day, most of us help someone else’s company to thrive, and many of us forget that it’s not our company. It’s not our “baby”. We don’t get rich if it succeeds, and we suffer when the people in charge make bad decisions. Your company may get sold, or implode. The people in charge may decide to abandon the thing you’ve devoted your time to. Even in a healthy company, your work rarely makes the world a better place. It rarely makes the people in it healthier, or happier.

Our time on this planet is too limited, and most of our waking hours go to someone else. They aren’t devoted to improving our lives or our happiness.

Don’t let yourself wake up one day and discover you’re another Bob. Put in the hours you agreed to when you signed up, and then go do something for you.