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The saying work to live or live to work comes up a lot, especially when talking about work-life balance. Also, I realized that I did not fully comprehend the meaning because I am a workaholic, and after some research, I discovered I do both. Hear me out on this because you will find different meanings depending on where you dig, but the one I found most accurate is the one I found on Medium.com.

Work to Live or Live to Work

Basically, “work to live” means you work so that you can allow yourself to enjoy other things in life, aside from your job.

It means that once you get home, your job has no meaning to you and that you are more focused on other things, such as your hobbies, your family and friends, and yourself.

Working to live means obtaining resources so that you can be a functional member of society, and permit yourself a good lifestyle.

On the other hand, “live to work” might be understood in two different ways.

One is that your life is based on your work and nothing else, which could be pretty bad for you.

The other one means you love your job so much that there is no clear line between your professional and personal life. Some might say that when you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.


Work to Live

working to live

We all work to live, live to work, and sometimes both. I want to elaborate on both to know the difference and how it affects your mental well-being and work. Working to live is when people live in a “have to” mentality. It means you have no other choice but to work to live. How many of you live your life to get by and pay the bills? When you are just in the daily grind of work, you do it for the paycheck. You’re not doing it because you enjoy what you do.

The toll that takes on someone after a long period is destructive and puts you in a place of negativity whenever you “have to” work. You do it to enjoy other things in life that you like to do. So you go in for the paycheck and do the bare minimum of what you are required to do. It’s not a healthy way to be, and it will show in your work every time. The crazy thing is that when it is time for a promotion, and you are looked over, you get upset. You should be upset but upset with yourself because your “have to” attitude caused management to promote someone else.

Does the job suck? Probably, but you can choose to see the good in it. See it as an opportunity to learn and grow and then high tail it out of there. Find a job that you will enjoy going to every day that supports your lifestyle. You are only partially living when you work to live, and I want you to live fully. Most of us are not born into money, but even those born into money have to work because the money won’t last without putting in the work. It might not look the same as working at a supermarket, but they have to work.

The way to conquer the “have to” mentality is to realize you “get to” every day you “get to” wake up and go to work. The person who just got let go from a company doesn’t. Do I love my job as a production manager? Yes, because every day, I get to come into the office to learn and advance in my career. Then there are times I don’t because it is stressful and draining. I am not always on point with my “get to” mentality, but I stop myself from spiraling by reminding myself that many people in my industry are out of work and jobs are scarce, at least in my field.

We all need to work in order to live, but it is all about how you look at it when you go to work. Do you feel good when you go home after a long day at work? Do you feel like you are making a difference? Do you feel like you are learning new skills? Are you growing as a person? These are all questions you need to ask yourself. You are the narrator of your story so do you “get to” or do you “have to”?

Live to Work

living to work

When someone lives to work it means nothing else outside of work matters to them, at least not with the same level of importance as a job. These people are often referred to as workaholics. There is a difference between being career-driven and being a workaholic. Being a workaholic is someone who only cares about their job and puts it above everything and everyone else.

Then you have people who are career-driven and these are the people who care deeply about their career but are able to balance other aspects of their lives as well. When someone lives to work they put all of their attention on working. This is unhealthy because when your life revolves around your job you can’t enjoy other things life has to offer. This can cause issues in relationships and personal life.

Being able to have other interests aside from your job is important to your overall well-being. What if one day you got fired or couldn’t work then what. If all you do is live for work then you are going to fall apart if the work is not there anymore. It’s ok to be passionate about what you do, but that can’t be the only thing. You have to have some sort of personal life in order to have a balance.

Final Thoughts:

I am a recovering workaholic drawing the line when I realized how much I was missing out on with my family because I wanted to advance in my career. I thought that was the only way is to live until one day I woke up and realized that my family is what is important. Everyone says that the COVID-19 lockdown was the worst thing that ever happened. Not for me though because it opened my eyes.

I am grateful for the lockdown because it showed me that there is more to life than just work. Being forced to slow down made me realize that I needed to create a healthy work-life balance. I already learned how to leave work at work, but when the work started to come home that changed things. I realized that I wanted to spend more time with my family and we did. So while everyone else was at each other’s throats we made the most of it and it was the best thing that ever happened to my family.

No matter what side of the fence you fall on you have to find a balance because without it you are just setting yourself to hit a wall either professionally or personally. I walk a fine line between working to live and living to work, but because of that line, I am able to live a life that people dream about. I might not make six figures, but I get to live a full life every day at work and at home.

Find your balance and what works for you. Don’t let a job consume you and don’t go into work with a “have to” attitude. When you realize that you can have the best of both worlds it really does change the game.


If you are looking for further guidance on work to live or live to work you can drop me a comment or contact me. I am here to empower you and give you told that will help have a full amazing life.

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