A Generation Teetering Off Balance: Workaholism or a New Way of Thinking?
October 9, 2007
Work. Life. Balance. These words tend to get tossed together a lot. Hanging out as though they go so merrily together, no one should give any thought to how difficult a concept this is not just to grasp, but to actualize. It’s a buzzphrase in conversations ranging from employee retention to job satisfaction to recruiting to gripe sessions with friends to exit interviews! Sure, we “value” this concept; most everyone strives after it. But what does it really mean? What does it look like? I’m coming to the conclusion that Gen Y may not really know.
However, from conversations I’ve been in the past week or so, young professionals everywhere are in the midst of dealing with this very definitive issue in very real ways. The thing is, when real life (and work) start getting out of balance, Gen Y isn’t sure how to cope. From friends blogging about trying to find time for a personal life amidst a constant workload to friends talking about spending 60 hours in the office while their spouse waits at home, I seem to be noticing a somewhat disturbing trend.
It seems Gen Y entering the workforce may be turning to workaholic tendencies to cope and get ahead. I’m not sure why this is happening, given we have been labeled one of the most balance-oriented generations yet. Perhaps it’s our drive or our intense desire to prove ourselves. Perhaps it’s an impatience to realize the promise of career advancement and opportunities we were told throughout college were coming to us that has us slaving away at the office and after work. Could be the fact that another large percentage of our generation seems to have a knack for slacking off, making it the perfect time for more aspiring professionals to showcase their dedication and talent.
Is it just me, or is this a real concern? Maybe it’s truly a different way of thinking about life and Gen Y believes that there’s a seamless process in which work and life are really extensions of one another. Whether or not we are truly predisposed with such a mindset, there’s a harsh reality check in store for Millennials, regardless of how much we say we value balance: If you can’t ever turn your mind out of work mode, if you can never put down the blackberry, if you’re logging more hours in the office than anywhere else but at home tucked into your comfy bed, it is safe to say that you’re starting to resemble a workaholic.
So, what’s a generation to do when our lives are on the line? How can we find balance in a system that doesn’t define it for us? Can we face the challenge of prioritizing for life, when push comes to shove? I’m all ears.