Backupify CEO Rob May has some advice for folks just starting out in their careers: forget about work-life balance. To get ahead while you’re young, he says, you have be prepared to take jobs you don’t like, work harder than everyone else, and essentially leave having a life for later on.
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“There’s a lot of talk about work/life balance today, but now’s not the time to think that way,” he writes in Business Insider. “You’re most likely single and childless. You won’t be forever. Want to ensure you have a big experience gap over your peers? Screw the 40 hour work week and spend as much time as it takes to be the best you can possibly be. The rewards in the future will be worth the sacrifices you’re making now.”
A hard pill for workers of any age to swallow. But is he right?
Let’s look at his points:
1. “Studies have shown that passion comes from mastery, not mastery from passion.”
Hate your first job after graduation? Don’t despair. May points out that loving your job can — and perhaps should — come after you develop skills and build your career. While that might not be what workers of any age want to hear, it’s also a useful counterpoint to the cultural assumption that you should always Do What You Love.
Likewise, his admonition to do work that others find boring or difficult is good advice for those who want to earn bank later in life. STEM jobs are generally high-earning, high-demand occupations, but all require an investment in mastering skills and powering through occasionally repetitive tasks.
2. “Set the ground work for future excellence.”
May tells young workers to skip TV, nights out drinking, and all the other time-wasters that keep them from investing in their careers. Here, we might quibble with his dedication (although he at least points out that not everyone needs to become CEO of their own company in order to be happy). Focus is important, but so is taking breaks. Burn the midnight oil every night, and you’re liable to burn yourself out as well. Plus, some of those happy hours can actually add up to good networking opportunities, provided you don’t overindulge.
3. “Now’s not the time to think that way.”
Even if we’re not as single-minded as May, we spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, so it makes sense to invest in our jobs, in the hopes that our long-term careers will be satisfying. But just because someone is single, childless, and young, doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve a life.
Go ahead and give your career your all. Just remember that if you don’t take the time to develop your life outside of work, you could wind up missing out on everything that life has to offer. Also, with most workers toiling at several different careers over the course of their lifetimes, you never know when your hobby could evolve into the job you were always meant to have.
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