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Sacrificing parts of your life to do great things.

Do some of you ever wonder if you are sacrificing parts of your life (family, health, social life, etc) for the sake of your job? 

For those who don't feel this, how do you balance it out and still stay among the top level?

Crimson
Monday, August 09, 2004

it's always tough to figure out the right balance between home and work.

my general thought is that if work isn't rewarding you, then it isn't worth it! and if it is rewarding you, then is it worth the hassle?

i also do little things like,  try to keep my fiance posted if i'm working late, etc.

Patrick
Monday, August 09, 2004

"For those who don't feel this, how do you balance it out and still stay among the top level"

Simply go home.  Set a time.  When the clock hits that time, leave.  Get in your car, drive home, and live your life.

This industry is a cannibal.  Set your boundaries.

Sassy
Monday, August 09, 2004

Lead as much of your personal life at work as you can get away with.  Continually find more ways to handle daily personal tasks at work.  Bringing your checkbook and writing out bills is one such thing.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

Oh, and handle as many personal business calls on company time as you can squeeze in.  Try to do this when your boss is in meetings or at lunch.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

I raised four wonderful children. They all went to top flight colleges and all did well. My wife followed her karma and did what she loved instead of what paid well and couldn't be happier about it.

I could have done better at what I do had I been willing to relocate or spend 60 hours a week at mega-corp looking for a promotion. Instead, I spent all the time that was necessary, and then some, to raise my family well.

I never sacrificed those parts of my life for the sake of anything, especially not my job at a big-humongous, imperious company. Meanwhile I invested conservatively and I'm pretty well set for retirement.

But I'm not at all inclined to retire because I still enjoy what I do. So many of you talk about burn-out after just a few years. I never got burned out and I've been at this for over 30. 

Take your kids camping, take your wife on a holiday, go to a gym and work out, go outdoors and run a few miles and burn off some frustrations. And DO NOT work weekends without a damn good reason.

old_timer
Monday, August 09, 2004

I KNOW that in the past I sacrificed most parts of my life for a  job. I feel very stupid/used for doing so. Now I have too many hobbies and I care too much for my family to ever let a job come between me & them.


Monday, August 09, 2004

"""how do you balance it out and still stay among the top level"""

I don't know what you mean by 'top level'. But to balance it out, simply ask yourself if what you are doing will have been important when you're on your deathbed. Pulling all-nighters for a month to get 3.2 out the door probably won't count as a significant accomplish. Knowing that you gave all of yourself to your kid probably would.


Monday, August 09, 2004

One thing that helps me is to remind myself that:

1.  Building memories with the people you care about is an important thing to do -- and the memories last a lifetime.

2.  Building expertise and creating systems at work is rewarding, but needs to be balanced with #1.

AllanL5
Monday, August 09, 2004

If you have to remind yourself of the importance of your family and personal life over your career, you are a workaholic and need some serious help.  This is something that should be obvious, self-evident, and continually forward in your mind without even stopping to think about it.

it's very scary that people have sincere trouble seperating this in their minds.  No wonder the world is going to Hell.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004


The title of your post mentions "to do great things" and you relate this to something you do on the job.

While I love my work and get great satisfaction from delivering solid software,  I view it as what I do, not who I am. Not to get all soft and squishy, but I view being a father, husband and being involved in my family as a far greater thing than anything I do at work. Although I own my own company, I still don't let it consume my life. I make time for the more important things and don't let myself fall into the trap of thinking "Well, I'll make time for that other stuff after this project." The fact is, there will always be another project, another deadline. You gotta make the time for what's really important. Otherwise, work and career becomes a cruel taskmaster.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, August 09, 2004

"If you have to remind yourself of the importance of your family and personal life over your career, you are a workaholic and need some serious help. "

That's an enormously simplistic and naive statement. Humans are a bit more complicated than that.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, August 09, 2004

Work at home.

Of course this means interruptions from one's offspring or spouse to explain to them what some unexpected message means on their screen but on the whole this is easier than having to do the same thing in an office.

At least you can growl at them.

Simon Lucy
Monday, August 09, 2004

+++
That's an enormously simplistic and naive statement. Humans are a bit more complicated than that.+++

dude, if you don't know that your wife and kid are more important than your job with every breath you take and every beat of your heart, then you're some kind of sociopath.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

"dude, if you don't know that your wife and kid are more important than your job with every breath you take and every beat of your heart, then you're some kind of sociopath. "

I don't think anyone that has a family thinks their work is more important. That's not even an issue.

The issue, since you seemed to have missed it, is how to balance the demands. If you are even a moderately ambitious person then you will quickly find yourself in a situation where family and work compete for your time.

For most people, it's not as simple as saying "Oh. 5:00 PM. Time to go home."

Mark Hoffman
Monday, August 09, 2004

"do great things" != being a wage slave to some BigCorp.

If you want to do something great, start your own successful business, or go and help wounded children in a war-torn country, or become a multimillion dollar movie star.

If you're making big sacrifices for a regular job, you aren't getting "great things" done.

NoName
Monday, August 09, 2004

+++For most people, it's not as simple as saying "Oh. 5:00 PM. Time to go home."+++

and that's what's sad.  If your ambitions are centered around your work for some corporation, then you need a serious reality check.  If working for yourself, then that's something else, but still should not be a major dilemna.  The balance is obvious.  If your family is wanting for your time, then you're doing it wrong.  Period.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

"I don't think anyone that has a family thinks their work is more important. That's not even an issue."

For the sake of contradiction, I would say that many people who stay long at work do so because they aren't eager to see their family too much. (From what I've gathered, most families are terrible ;-)  But that's not the issue ).

GP
Monday, August 09, 2004

"The balance is obvious.  If your family is wanting for your time, then you're doing it wrong.  Period."

I'd say that muppet hasn't had to pay for college for his kids, or heard his wife murmur about the size of the house, or had his kids crying because he couldn't afford the trip to Disney Land.

Families cost money. A lot. Just college alone is a huge financial burden. Just being a lowly "clock watcher" worker won't pay much. You want more money for the family, then you work a little harder to earn a little more.

Who doesn't want their kids to have the best college?
Who doesn't want their family to enjoy nice vacations?
Who doesn't want to give their wife a nicer home?

So, the pressure of giving your family material things begins to conflict with spending time with them. If you've never personally experienced this then fine. But you're nuts if you think that good, family loving people don't encounter this problem.

John Tarken
Monday, August 09, 2004

I suppose my family just isn't obsessed with material things.  How sad that yours is.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

All the people saying family is more important than work are right 99% of the time.

That said, for a few people it's not.  If you want to go out and find a cure for AIDS, or be the CEO of a non-tiny company, or run for president, or really "do great things", family often has to take 2nd place.  Which means often those people shouldn't have a (traditional) family because family should never take 2nd place.  Find a SO with similar "career is more important" goals and don't have kids, or get some serious help raising your kids (help that stays with the kids for their entire childhood and essentially serves a semi-parent role.)

But for most of us, go home at 5pm and enjoy life.  It's more important in the end than putting in another few hours for mega-corp.

Michael Kale
Monday, August 09, 2004


Hmmm...sounds like muppet is just a lazy, argumentive ass who hates his employer, doesn't like to work and doesn't realize his family has needs beyond his presence. (Which good gried, that's got to be pure suffering to be in the room with an asshole like him.)

Gawd, what a prick.
Monday, August 09, 2004

If you have a family, a big part of your obligation to them is providing for their needs.  At a basic level this includes food and shelter but also longer term things like health care, education, recreation, retirement, etc.

Each family will have their own "level of comfort" with these things and some will be happy with a lifestyle that others might consider austere, but unless you're happy living at a homeless shelter then you are going to have to work to provide these things.

Platitudes about "quality time" with the family only go so far.  Spending time with the family *is* important, but so is providing for their needs.  I don't consider it a "sacrifice" to provide for my family.

AMS
Monday, August 09, 2004

AMS, you're of course right.  Your family needs to eat well, and they need to have shelter, entertainment, fun, and your kids need to get the best education possible.

But remember that money != happieness.  Your family will be happier with you there more often even if it means they have to live in a smaller place, eat out less, drive a used car, see 2nd run movies, etc, than they will be with all the fancy stuff and you not there as often.

My two cents at least....

Michael Kale
Monday, August 09, 2004

I don't think that the "great things" the OP was talking about have to do with family time.

You just have to find your own level.  If you get your satisfaction from the workplace, it naturally makes sense to apply your efforts there.  If you get your satisfaction from hobbies/ family / whatever, then you know where to go.

You have to do what is important to you.  Figure that out, and you'll be happier for it.

I realized way back that I was not interested in climbing to the top, but unlike the characterization made by the poster above, I am not a "clock-watcher".  I have set a boundary, I usually set it in the interview.  Since most of my employers have found me to be an exceptional employee, it has never interfered with my ability to move up.

Sassy
Monday, August 09, 2004

old timer,
you da frick'n man . . . mega truth in those words!

Anon
Monday, August 09, 2004

If "great things" is all we are looking for, I once had a job with temendous international impact. In fact there are still tens of thousands of craters in S.E. Asia from those impacts. So perhaps there should have been a definition early on about what constitutes a great thing.

old_timer
Monday, August 09, 2004

I'd guess muppet's family does not want for his time, regardless how many hours he works.

...think about it...
Monday, August 09, 2004

you'd guess wrong

I'm sorry you're all so bitter.  It sucks having one guy who doesn't spout the same bullshit the rest of you do, huh?

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

Muppet,

You're fun to watch. Can you explain your contradictions though?

In one post, you said this:
"If your family is wanting for your time, then you're doing it wrong.  Period. "

Then someone posted:
"I'd guess muppet's family does not want for his time, regardless how many hours he works. :

Finally, you responded to that by saying:
"you'd guess wrong"

So, if your family is wanting for your time, then by your own admission you are "doing it wrong. Period". In fact, you went so far as to ascribe the characteristic of "sociopath" to some of those people.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.
Monday, August 09, 2004

Guys,

Muppet is merely a troll and you all are taking the bait. He contradicts himself on virtually every argument he gets into. That's what a troll does. Quit feeding him and he might go away.

Really Me
Monday, August 09, 2004

Where do you see contradictions?  I never said I was doing it right.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

Muppet,

Oooooohhhh.. I see.

So, in other words, you aren't different than the people you are criticizing. Gotcha.

I think hypocrite was the word you were looking for.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.
Monday, August 09, 2004

How is it hypocritical to be capable of self criticism?  Now *I'm* confused.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

Well I know you aren't, because I'm not quite that crass.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004


Self-criticism? That's funny. There is nothing in your posts to indicate that you were including yourself in the groups that you were excoriating. Anyone reading your comments would understand them to be aimed at anyone but yourself.

No, you are either a self-righteous hypocritical dolt, or you are just a troll.

I'm guessing you a troll that is probably a dolt, to boot.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.
Monday, August 09, 2004

I'm sorry.. I don't see how what I do personally was the least bit relevant to the point I was making.  I'm sorry if you feel it was, and I'm somehow a dolt for not anticipating your strange need to connect the two.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

I'm muppet and so's my wife!

...think about it...
Monday, August 09, 2004

muppet, YHBT

Kalani
Monday, August 09, 2004

First rule of Message Boards:
Don't Feed the Trolls.

Sassy
Monday, August 09, 2004

It's funny, in the pre-muppet era, you'd have to mention Hitler or salad cream to get a thread to die. Now you just have to wait for muppet to turn up.

.
Monday, August 09, 2004

I, for one, agree with muppett's position.

I think most of us do, and realize it's dumb to argue the opposing side.


Monday, August 09, 2004

Thank you. At least one person agrees with me. Even if he is too stupid to spell my fucking name correctly.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

Keep on impersonating me, it's very believable.

muppet
Monday, August 09, 2004

Here's a short story.  It is amazing how people just focus on 'family' and 'work' when life is far more than just that. 

I am a consultant who travels every week to clients all over North America, helping them figure out how to use my company's tools for their needs.

Today was a very productive day after I flew in at Montreal.  I zipped through tons of things to do, and got it all done.  Tonight, I went out with a co-worker I have been with for the past few months for a pair of drinks at a bar we randomily chosed (Med on Saint Laraunt), and had a pair of martini each.  We spent about a couple hours in that place talking about things, laughing, and bitching about work.

There was no romantic thing between us.  However, it was one of the most mindblowing couple of hours I have had.  We've been having that kind of thing where we just hit a place, and live it up, doing crazy things, and enjoying their food, drinks, and environment.

I am so glad I am working with him for the past few months.  I'll miss him when we're reassigned, but that will not stop me from seeking out new folks for new fun.

It is a sacrifice to travel all the time.  I am still a bit young enough to do this, but I will not be doing this forever.  However, while I'm doing this, I will not be dedicating to just work.  I demand my fun, and I will get it, one way or another.

That's how I like to live my life.

T.J.
Monday, August 09, 2004

So in a nutshell -- if you are to work your ass off, why not have fun working your ass off?

T.J.
Monday, August 09, 2004

TJ,
hedonistic lifestyle will not you happy in the long run my child.

Oldwiseguy
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oldwiseguy, seems you missed this part:

"I am still a bit young enough to do this, but I will not be doing this forever."

muppet
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I know Mr. Muppet, it's just better to change your lifestyle now than to delay it until you're old.

Oldwiseguy
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Way to make a thread degenerate!

Muppet is not really a troll. I have read comments from alot worse trolls. His comments sometimes become too emotional/personal for a decent debate, but that can be said of alot of other posters (including a number in this thread). Regardless of your opinion of his comments, he does often make reasonable arguments.

Of course he is going to get his back up and start swearing, when 10+ guys decide to start kicking dirt at him. I agree he did get a little too personal. ie
"I suppose my family just isn't obsessed with material things.  How sad that yours is."
was a bit rude and stood out, however as much I personally wouldn't have said something like that, it was in direct response to  John Tarken's comment
"I'd say that muppet hasn't had to pay for college for his kids, or heard his wife murmur about the size of the house, or had his kids crying because he couldn't afford the trip to Disney Land."

Fair go guys. I would say Tarkin was baiting Muppet not the other way around.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oh gosh, I have become the self-appointed hall monitor. Somebody help me!!

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The most important thing to realise about capitalist societies is that the 'machine' is optimised to extract the most work from you for the lowest benefit. As people become more thoughtful and educated, they are better able to resist the worst excesses of the system. In Victorian times, you worked until you were at death's door for nothing. These days the mortgage-house price complex is designed to drain away your income until the system is ready to let you retire.

The key to handling this is to understand that you are a mini-business in your own right. You have the right to make a profit for yourself, just like your employer. Don't give away any free lunches.

WoodenTongue
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Wow..Grand Moff Tarkin from the old Star Wars Death Star is back from the death !!!

AussieChick, do you have a personal website? With your photo of course.

Not Muppet
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Answering the OP's 2 questions: (1) no because I've been lucky enough not to have to sacrifice my family for my job - but my hobbies have taken a beating; and (2) most people at the top seem to leave behind them a trail of failed relationships and neglected children (and those that don't seemed to have made their money before getting hitched), so the honest answer is "with some difficulty". 

a cynic writes...
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sacrifice my family? What, all of them?


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

No, just the goat.

Abram
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Aussie Chick,s phote is on her web site if you look for it, along with her brother and parents. She's a sturdy, handsome gal about 24 or so. I seem to recall semewhere she mentions she is married.

Digger
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A sturdy handsome girl about 24?

Oh way to flatter a girl.....

I think I have a photo of me when I was 18 on my website (not really a website, just a dumping ground)? Please don't tell me that is the one you are referring to.


24...sturdy...oh gosh this is worse then being a hall monitor...

Aussie chick
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Okay wait there is a photo when I am 23.

In response to some thoughts in a recent topic (http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=172681&ixReplies=42)
This is the downside of being a girl.
Although I may get lots of nice help, I also get discussions about what I look like, and photo requests, and then the fear that 'oh my gosh, if my photo is not pretty enough will I just get treated like one of the guys'? (okay don't read too much into that last line.

Aussie chick
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Aussie,

Most of us really don't give a shit if you are a woman or not, attractive or not, fat or not, etc. Don't let the few horney idiots make you feel that we're all lusting after you.

Bah
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oh gosh, I sorry if I gave that impression. I think the male lusting after the female is one of the negative stereotypes that I think is true.

I would never mean to suggest that I think anyone is lusting after anyone. You can be sure I have never assumed this about anyone in this forum. I am just interested the real differences between males and females.

I think I shall stop talking now.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oops, I meant one of the negative stereotypes that I don't think is true!!

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It's all about time and resources.

It would be really nice working 5-8 hours a day, sleep at least 6-7 hours daily and having fun all the other time with friends and family. But - there's allways some but - you have to learn, you have to solve problems, you have to answer phones or hire people to do it for you etc. etc - it's very hard to be good in little time. More or less you have to invest - mainly time.
Many times there's no much difference who are you working for - big multibillion international dinosaur or your own garage company. Do you think some CEO can do his work in 5 hours a day?

Then there are resources. You need money to run business. You need money for family. And you need your family and family needs you too. You have to decide and they have (to some extent) too. More money or more you?

There are just two things that can't be bought but are spent: time and love. The most difficult resources to handle. They are flowing thru your life.  How to manage that?
It would be great working 12 hours a day, have a long sleep, work out and eat nice meals, go out with frienda and be with family at least 4-6 hours daily. The problem is - the day is too short (at least for me ;-). You have to take compromises.

One of the best techniques for making such decisions is projecting yourself in future and think back - how will I feel about my current life, my decisions, when I'll be older, very old or even making overview of my whole life dying? What makes you more happy? Brand new V6 car or a kid's hug and smile? 2 weeks vacation wherever you want or a loving wife on a boat on nearby lake?

Know yourself. There lies the answer. As someone said: if you want to know the source and solution of all your problems - look in the mirror.

Andre
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

-----"Do you think some CEO can do his work in 5 hours a day?"----

Actually there are quite a few who do just that, and maintain that there is something wrong with those that don't.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, August 15, 2004

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