Why Work-Life Balance Is Overrated
There is this strange notion that your 20s are when you should find yourself, and you shouldn’t worry about working hard until you get into your 30s. Although this seems like a great idea in theory, it’s a bad idea (unless you’re a trust fund baby) if you plan on becoming somewhat successful in life.
Your 20s are probably the best years you will have in almost every regard. Given that the most of us spend our 20s, or at least our early twenties, single, without children, and most of the time without mortgages, our 20s are the first time when we have money and probably the last time where we have relatively few duties. Because of this, we can all make a choice early in our 20s: do we want to spend our spare time finding our self or chasing our dreams and creating our self in the process?
If you choose the former, fine; I bet you’ll have a great time traveling, experiencing wanderlust and attending music festivals. However, if you choose the latter, the payoff will be much greater.
Because nobody owes you anything
First, you should work hard because nothing in this life is free. Your dreams and goals don’t just happen one day by chance. You don’t say, “Well I want to become ___ by 35” and not create a plan of attack and expect it to still happen. Your goals will only come to fruition if you work ridiculously hard.
Not only do you have to be working ridiculously hard, but you also have to be working harder than the man or woman next to you who wants the same thing as you. You’re competing with them, whether you want to believe it or not. When you go home at 5 to unwind and watch Netflix, they are putting in those extra hours.
Don’t waste your 20s finding yourself because you think the universe will eventually place you in your dream career when you’re done having fun. By then, it might be too late because that spot you wanted was already given to someone who grinded through their 20s and worked for their spot.
Because you should be taking risks
Life is all about risk. Take some damn risks in your 20s. If you want to build a startup, do it. If you want to move across the country to take a low paying job that can lead to big opportunities, take it. Never take the safe option. You will have to take those in your 30s and 40s.
I understand risk is scary. A little while ago, my co-founders and I quit our jobs to start Benchmark Intelligence. It was rough, I went at least six months not paying myself a dime, we moved half ways across the country to attend a startup accelerator and at one point I was sleeping on the ground every night, along with two of my co-founders. Luckily, the risk I took then is starting to pay off as we now have customers and investors.
I like to believe I took a big risk by leaving my secure job but in reality the risk I took was minimal, as I had no spouse, no children and no mortgage. However, my co-founder, who’s in his early 30s, has a wife, four handsome boys, and a mortgage. He took a risk exponentially greater than I did. You can afford to take much more risks in your 20s than your 30s.
You don’t have to start a business like I did to take a risk. Risk can be taking an unpaid internship at your dream company versus taking a paid gig at any other company. Take the road less traveled. Yes, the more risk you take, the higher chance you have of failing. However, by the same token, the more risk you take, the bigger the reward.
Because you should utilize your youth while you have it
Most athletes reach their athletic prime (depending on the sport) in their 20s. Although you’ll reach your career prime much later, you will be in your physical prime during your 20s. You will never have as much energy or drive as you have right now. This is the time to go for it, to give it your all (and that means extra hours). Don’t waste this drive on work-life balance.
You can also use your age to get through doors and obtain mentors who will show you the ropes. Older, experienced professionals love working with young, driven individuals. These mentors can open doors for you and accelerate your career.
Companies value your ambition, ideas, and fresh outlook, and they’re willing to drop their older and more experienced employees (who are twice as expensive) to give you a shot. Just remember, although people will value your ambition, they will underestimate your capabilities. They think Millennials are entitled, so prove them wrong.
Because you should do what you love
Not having a work-life balance only works if you are doing what you love. I wouldn’t be able to work on Benchmark Intelligence 80 hours a week if I didn’t love it.
Only work on what you love doing. When you’re doing what you love, it’s not work; it’s your lifestyle. It’s a part of who you are.
If you don’t love what you’re doing right now, then change your occupation/field. When you’re doing something you don’t love, the days go slow and the only thing you have to look forward to are the weekends. If you love what you’re doing, the weekends are just another day of the week. Yeah, they’re great, but you’re having fun all week grinding and hustling.
Often, obtaining your dream job involves tons of work getting there. Start as soon as you can and pursue it aggressively until it comes to fruition.
Because it’s OK to party hard, but only 10% as hard as you work
Listen, when I say a work-life balance is overrated, I don’t mean you can’t have any sort of life. I work 80+ hours and I still manage to have fun — quite a bit, to be honest. With that being said, I don’t watch television or play video games or anything like that in my free time. I only spend the very little free time I have with my family and friends, either working out, traveling or going out.
Your friends, family and career should always come first before anything else. Even with having fun being a distant second, you can still party hard — just make sure you’re only partying 10% as hard as you work. As you progress in your career, you will develop more time and money to have fun, but you need to put in the work first.