We overwork ourselves, and for reasons that don’t have any true meaning.
Somehow, in the US, it has become acceptable and even expected of us to work 40 or more hours a week. Society has decided that 40 hour workweeks are what makes us a productive part of society. Any less than that and we aren’t carrying our share of the load. Even worse, some think that working more than that makes you a better, more valuable person. There are many people that easily put in 50+ hours a week and scoff at others that don’t do the same.
So, where did the 40 hour norm come from? According to The History Channel, Ford Motor company was one of the first companies to establish the 5 day, 40 hour work week. Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son is quoted as saying “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation”. Henry, himself, said “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege”.
Around the globe, other nations realize the importance of less work and more personal time. Some countries even have laws supporting this. Here are just a few:
- Netherlands: Average workweek hours – 29
- Denmark: Average workweek hours – 33
- Ireland: Average workweek hours – 34
- Germany: Average workweek hours – 35
On top of that, all of the above average over $40,000 a year salary.
So, the path to simplify your work-life balance is to work less. I know, that’s not possible for a lot of people today. But it’s something that everyone should strive for.
Imagine how much better your life could be if you worked less. More time sleeping, more time playing with your kids and teaching them. More time playing sports, socializing with your friends.
How do you get there? Learn that buying more things, a bigger house, new cars and the most expensive cloths only force you to work more to pay for them. The only people that truly benefit from you working more are the people that own the companies that you work for and their stockholders. And do you know what they are doing? WORKING LESS.
Once you learn this, you can stop buying the next new thing and even downsize what you currently have and don’t really need.
I think it’s time we adopt the mindset that working 40 hours or more is unacceptable. The US is over-worked and over-stressed. We need to end this thought that the more we work, the better person we are. We need to quit putting emotional value on possessions and putting it on relationships.
Life should be about life, not work.