Work to live, dont live to work.

All my life I’ve taken breaks from work. A month here, 8 months there.

There were contiguous years of salary slavery, but even then I had 4 weeks annual leave and used all of it, plus some unpaid leave. I even had a spreadsheet to optimise my use of those 20 days combined with public holidays and weekends for maximum breaks.

I always asked for a month to get ready for a new job.
I took six weeks when my dad died.
Fifteen years ago I went consulting and never worked longer than 3 months full-time again.

I’ve owned four houses over most of that time, mortgaged. I gave half of everything in a divorce. I’m not rich but I’m doing better than most. I dont have much retirement savings, but living in a paradise like NZ that’s fine. I dont plan to retire until I have to. Working like this, why would I be sick of it?

Live in the world, not a treadmill. You only get this one life.

Why not be like Elon Musk and work 120 hours a week to change the world? I don’t think Musk is very happy. He looks to me like a lonely autist with obsessive compulsive behaviours. He can’t keep a woman and he can’t settle in a home. If that’s what you want, go for it. He is indeed changing the world and I respect him for it, but I wouldn’t want to be him. Most people who behave like Musk will make money, but millions behave like him and we’ve never heard of them. My personal observation is that almost all super hard working people I’ve known are not notably happy, many are very unhappy. There are a few notable exceptions because humans.

Me, I’m happier than I ever imagined.

I’m in a fabulous relationship with an amazing woman. We have enough money to do most things. I have four great kids, a nice house, a cool dog, and a dream lifestyle. It has been a messy, rocky road here but it was a great ride. I never ever fell for the employer gaslighting scam about the rewards of giving them my life. They burn people for fuel. They never got me.

I never set out to change the world. I like to think that in the last ten years I’ve made a lot of working lives a bit better. I was inspired by Gene Kim saying his mission was to make the lives of a million IT people better. I know Gene. He didnt intend to do it by persuading them to work 120 hours a week. Quite the reverse. The DevOps community are passionate about fighting karoshi, about preventing burnout, about allowing IT people to live normal lives.

Most people think overwork is unethical, and not many people want to work at it. I also think it’s counterproductive. Knowledge workers are not productive 120 hours a week (aside from a few freaks like Musk). If they’re putting those hours in, most of them are wasted.