I have a very poor work-life balance. How can I escape the grind?

06 April 2024

Hey Vadim,

Here's the situation: from the moment my alarm clock interrupts my sleep, until I finally come home late at night, my life is essentially a never-ending cycle of sitting in front of the PC and stressing with a workload that feels like it's set to max. I feel like I'm playing Dark Souls around the clock. I'm doing solid 60+ hours EVERY week, running on a treadmill that's just a bit too fast โ€” no matter how hard I hustle, I can't get to the finish line.

The expectations at my company are non achievable, at least I never managed to with the amount of hours that I've put in. My daily routine includes working the standard 9-5, then going home and doing another session of 3-4 hours, rinse and repeat for five days straight. Then on the weekend I do all the stuff that I couldn't do during the normal work week.

I feel guilty constantly, I'm not making my quotas, I'm not as good as others are it seems. This constant pressure has left me with no bandwidth to learn new skills outside of work or, frankly, to have any semblance of a real life outside these four digital walls.

I read your article on mental health, for me I think it's taking a toll physically as well. I've been gaining weight every year since starting this job, and my anxiety levels are through the roof.

So, what I'm wrestling with is this: Do I stick it out, hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, or is it time to cut my losses and find a job that doesn't feel like it's leading to an early grave?

Honestly, any advice would be incredibly valuable right now.



Dear Tim,

I read your message, and it struck a chord deep within me. As you mention my article, I’d like to say that Iโ€™ve walked a mile or two in your shoes, juggling the relentless demands of building something from the ground up, pouring every ounce of myself into work, and, yes, working through many weekends. Reflecting on those days with the wisdom of hindsight, I would likely dive back into that way of living again, but only if I were younger. Nowadays my priorities have shifted, other aspects of life are becoming more interesting to me rather then the “confines of digital walls”. Back then I had the health to sacrifice, now I don’t.

From one hard worker to another, I respect your dedication and drive. Itโ€™s a rare quality, but now itโ€™s time to pivot that respect towards yourself. You hinted at a desire to explore new skills and interests outside of work, a sign that your spirit yearns for more than just the grind. Listen to that inner voice. Remember, no one has ever laid on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at the office sitting in front of a shining pixels. The essence of life extends far beyond our professional achievements. I understand that we’ve got used to it, but there’s more life out there than in here.

Regarding the idea of quitting โ€” great idea, but Iโ€™d advise caution unless youโ€™re in a comfortable position to endure a potential period without employment. However, the urge to look for something new, something that aligns better with your values and desires for a balanced life, is a good start. The world of tech is vast and varied, offering roles that are demanding yet leave room for the soul to breathe, to live. There are so many positions that give you all the benefits of a comfortable job and no downsides of pressure. Maybe it will result in 10-15% pay cut, but it’s well worth it.

Inner peace is a journey that begins from within, not from external circumstances or possessions. Your well-being should always take precedence over any companyโ€™s bottom line. If your current role demands so much of your time and energy that you lose sight of yourself, itโ€™s a signal, loud and clear, that somethingโ€™s amiss. Trust your body. I’ve been there, I missed the signs, and it got bad.

I understand the fear and uncertainty. Yet, I urge you to consider what you truly value. If the numbers donโ€™t add up when you factor in the toll on your health and happiness, itโ€™s time to reassess. Seeking a position with much less workload, even if it means a significant dip in income, could very well feel like a raise when measured in quality of life and free time.

In your heart, you already know whatโ€™s best for you. The challenge lies in mustering the courage to pursue it. Companies will continue to operate, with or without us. Our duty is to ensure that we are not merely surviving but thriving, cherishing each moment and person in our lives.

Take care of yourself, my friend. You are more than your job, more valuable than any project or deadline.

With respect and understanding,

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