We work to live. We do not live to work.

We work to live. We do not live to work.

Imagine yourself well into retirement. You no longer work for money. Your children are grown up and have lives of their own. Your days are free of commitments. You are free to do whatever you want. You are financially independent.

You worked hard all your life. School, university, and then an impressive career as a lawyer working sixty to seventy hours per week. You made loads of money. In your garage, you have a small collection of German sports cars. Your house is massive, and you have an incredible library facing an enormous garden. You are currently on your third wife, and you barely know your children. One of them doesn’t talk to you. The other one lives across the world down under.

You are sitting in the garden wondering if it was all worth it.

On your deathbed, you realize that all the money you made no longer has any worth.

What you come to understand is that every action you take has intrinsic value, which can, at least in theory, be expressed in money.

When you work long hours, you generate value for your clients. In turn, they compensate you with monetary rewards.

Say I am charging $500 per hour, and I end up working 15 hours over some weekend. That gives me a handsome $7,500.

Put differently, I had a choice of either spending time with my partner and kids or working. I chose to give up family time for work time. I chose money over family.

I paid $7,500 to not spend time with the closest ones.

If this happens once in a blue moon, my family will probably forgive me. They might even be happy to take some of the money and spend it. But if it happens 50 weekends a year, they may not.

If work leads to divorce and loss of contact with kids and spouse, could we say that family was worth those extra long hours and weekend shifts? Even if that brought $1 million extra income, could we say that this was their price?

This is obviously a dramatically simplified and exaggerated example, but the notion is that everything we do in our lives has a price. The price we pay may be delayed into the future. If we are lucky, we come to realize the true price of our actions and act early to course correct. If we get carried away with our work, we may realize only when it’s too late.

We may have good intentions when working hard and chasing success; however, along the way, we may forget to take care of those closest to us. Inversely, if all we focus on is our family, without having some source of income, we will struggle to give our children the future they deserve.

The key is to find a balance in our lives that generates the greatest cumulative value. Create a basket of happiness and throw into it all that is important.

In mine, I find family, friends, mental and physical health, and wealth, both monetary and intellectual.

Our forefathers said that they worked to live. Somewhere along the way, just like the game of Chinese whispers, we turned that around and ended up living to work. Let us live our days rediscovering the old wisdom.

M | K