Let’s Talk About Work Life Balance

APRIL 24, 2014

Photo: Emily Long

When I was in high school I put a magnet up on my parents’ fridge that said, “You can always retake a test, but you can never retake a party.” If I had actually been a serious partier, I think my folks would have been more concerned.

Work and Play. Being a Millennial, I hear these words a lot, especially as it pertains to work-life balance.  I’ve read countless articles about how we demand careers where we can achieve our ambitions while also maintaining  a great and exciting life outside of work….before we’re 30.  But do we actually deserve that?

Yes, we’re well educated (many of us have a bachelors degree), and have worked hard to enter our first jobs.  We know we’re worth a lot, and our time is valuable.  But do we actually deserve a career right out of the gate where we show up at 9am and leave right at 5pm…maybe stay until 6pm one day a week?  Do we actually deserve to have a work-life balance so early on? Do we deserve to be able to work remotely, so we can stay in our pajamas all day and take a long shower mid-morning because we didn’t need to make an appearance at the office at the crack of dawn?

When I look back at our parents’ generation, and their parents’ generation, I see a work force that didn’t get by using a smartphone or an app. They showed up to their respective jobs day in and day out, and they worked hard.  And they enjoyed the responsibility.

To be clear, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have a life outside of work.  I think that my life outside of work is what recharges me, gets me through the week, encourages me, keeps me healthy, and keeps me going strong.  On my weekends, I don’t usually go in to the office.  I go hiking, or sailing.  On the best days I get to go skiing in knee deep powder on some local mountains.  Trust me, I don’t actually like being in the office.

What I do think our generation is lacking, however, is drive.  Drive to succeed and become the best.  Drive to take on more responsibility, and work our way up the career ladder, instead of expecting rewards instantaneously.  I’m tired of being referred to as a lazy generation.  An expectant generation.  I want to be remembered for busting my butt from when I get to work until I leave.

Don’t get me wrong, some mornings – maybe even most mornings – I hate getting out of bed.  I hate dragging myself to the gym at an ungodly hour so I can squeeze in a workout before my work day begins.  There are some months where I feel completely stuck in a rut at work, like I’m going nowhere, and simply doing the same thing over and over.

But at that point, I have two choices.  I could drag my feet into the office, make it known by my body language and demeanor that work sucks, and high tail it out of the there as soon as possible.  Or I can show up and bring my A–game.

You know that drive we had when we were 5 and we went to go to kindergarten, learned how to read, and put ribbons and streamers on our bikes because we were in a parade?  Do you remember that excitement?  I think we should bring it back. Because in my opinion, if you work hard with drive and enthusiasm, you will make it to where you want to go.  Even if you aren’t sure of that direction quite yet, it will take you somewhere.



  • Becky 4 years ago

    I think you have to look at the balance over a life time, not just a day or week. Not being afraid of your future helps accomplish that. I have re-positioned my view of your generation. Instead of thinking you are an entitled group of narcissistic young adults (I know, it doesn’t sound nice), I’ve decided that your age group leans towards the impatient group – not knowing how precious it is to wait, or achieve over time a goal. With that in mind, I find it much easier to have compassion and understanding on the high schoolers I teach. And yes, I try to teach them to be patient. Deferred rewards are soooo worth it!

    • Morgan Kay 4 years ago

      I agree Becky – We’re most definitely an impatient generation. We’ve grown up blessed with parents who have given us everything we’ve asked for and haven’t learned the rewards of patience.