This has been eating at me for awhile and after seeing Matt’s Work/life balance post the other day I decided it was time to discuss it.
The question is: Do you work to live or do you live to work?
In my first week of the graduate program last year I was assigned a mentor who was a former grad. At our first meeting, he asked me “Do you work because that’s your life or do you work so that you can afford to do other things that you enjoy?”. I chose the first one and at the time was absolutely horrified that anyone could believe there was anything more important than their work. I was dead set certain that I would be making a career for myself at the organization I work for and staying there for a really long time. I lived to work. It was the sole reason I got out of bed in the morning and even did work on weekends from home so that I was well prepared for Monday. I used to think that my job was my career and career was my life.
Since then, almost 2 years have passed and I no longer feel that way. A lot has happened and a lot has changed and I’ve now flipped over to the other side - I work my full time job to live now not the other way around. My co-workers are lovely, I’m well treated, I’m given almost full autonomy in my work but at the end of the day what really makes me happy are my freelancing blogging engagements and my personal projects. In early August, I launched my own blog and within three days was approached by Optimal Workshop to start guest blogging for them and that is what makes me happy. All the UX stuff I do outside of my traditional 9-5 job is what I now consider to be my ‘career’. The other day I got an email from those guys that brightened my day significantly and became pretty clear that this is what I would prefer to do.
Has anyone else ever felt that way?
It’s like my job has become a training ground for my actual career which happens when I step out of the office. Is this how freelancing begins? Or is it a conscious choice? For me it seems to be evolving that way.
Six months from now my role as a designer at my organisation is going to change due to a restructure that it’s in the pipeline and I’m likely to find myself doing less user research and more information design. Which would be ok if information design at my organisation didn’t involve taking notes for 8 hours straight (my CTS is going to love it) and populating a useless template that some exec ‘designed’ 10 years ago and thinks it’s really something. While that worries me, I know that I have my personal projects and freelancing work and will continue to do that outside of my job.
What do you guys think? I’d really be interested to hear from those who’ve gone from office jobs to freelancing.