In order to make money, we generally have to work. For us to make a lot of money, we generally have to be willing to work more hours. That’s a common view, and one I don’t necessarily disagree with. I’ve been known as someone who’s worked some super long hours at times, includes late nights in the office when need be.
That said, is there a point where too much work can be a bad thing?
It might be perceived as being bad to say, and almost lazy to proclaim. However, forging ahead with tons of hard work to bring in money may be harmful to people in the long term. This appears to be the conclusion of a recent study, which was summarized in this New York Times article.
The specific, noteworthy finding is that those people who work 11 or more hours per day were clearly more likely to develop heart disease over a 12 year period of time than those who work 7 or 8 hours per day. In fact, those working the excess hours were 66% more likely to have a heart attack or even die from one.
There’s something to be said for moderation. For many of us, it’s just not possible to get something for nothing. This applies in many aspect of life, and it looks like that might be the case in terms of working long hours, too. The chronic stressors related to taking on that significant level of work might lead to health problems. For some people, it’s like robbing from Peter to pay Paul.
I know that many people might dismiss this notion of regular 11 hour workdays being unhealthy. Well, hey – that’s what the study does seem to indicate though!
As I said earlier, I’ve had many instances in the past where I worked long hours. I mean, I’m talking stretches of 70 to 80 hours per week. I felt like a warrior doing so, going out to battle and bringing home the prize of a great performance review and a chance at a promotion. The reality is that this is bad for one’s health makes me wonder what I did to myself during those times. Of course, I have to say that it’s not entirely surprising that this isn’t good for us. It’s just not as sustainable the older you get. Not just in terms of energy level, but family responsibilities as well.
A recent post on Financial Samurai discussed the topic of hard work and the 40-hour workweek. It was a great discussion, and one of my own comments was that nobody is entitled to be be rich. It has to be earned, and expecting riches while not putting in the necessary work is a sign of entitlement. Many people who complain about having to work a 40 hours week (when younger and healthy) and then complain about not getting ahead financially might be expecting to get something for nothing. Or, perhaps more accurately, they’re expecting to get something of value by not giving enough value in return.
Which is what I said a few paragraphs above about working tons of hours. To do that, and expect the same level of health and family life, may not be totally realistic. Kids do need parents to be present and attentive.
My takeaways are:
- Life is clearly about choices. If you don’t want to work, don’t expect wealth. Of course, if you want to push your mind and body by working long hours to get even more wealth, you might be trading some health for it. Sleep is important for wealth creation, as we’ve discussed here before.
- Maybe it’s all really about time management. Instead of regular 60 hour weeks, perhaps it’s better to learn to be efficient with regular 45 hours of work.
- If one is doing what he or she truly, absolutely loves to do and has some flexibility in where and when work can be done, maybe the work will cause less stress. Thus, the impact might not be the same as with other jobs. Who knows, maybe there’s something to that?
Please share: what do you think?