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Opinion Editorials

Letter to my daughter: work isn’t all there is to life

In a letter to my daughter that applies to anyone’s children soon to enter the workforce, we correct the record to show that work isn’t everything.


Dear daughter,

You’re halfway through your junior year and you’ve decided where you want to go to college, so you’ll soon be in the traditional workforce. We’ve been grooming you for years for the “real world,” but there is always more we can share from you based on our experience so you can take some career shortcuts and not have to learn everything the hard way.

One of the things we have impressed upon you as parents is that hard work is paramount to success, and that if you only halfway devote yourself to your career, you’ll only be halfway successful, if that. We’ve told you to never stop reading and learning about your field, and that you can only get ahead if you are ahead. So you may have the impression that work is everything.

We should clarify – work is work. It’s not everything.

Especially if you want to get married and/or have children, there will be things outside of work that divert your attention, and to an extent, that’s a good thing. Let me explain…

If the moment you get home, you kick off your shoes, turn on the news, and go back to work emails, read industry digests, tweet with leaders you aspire to emulate, eat dinner, shower, then go to bed, you’ve missed out on a lot of life, especially if this is the model for all 7 days of your week. Plus you’ll get burned out quickly, trust me on this one.

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Instead, we encourage you to live a well rounded life. Read fiction, get some crayons and draw in a coloring book for fun, go kayaking, take yoga classes, pick up an instrument, go watch an obscure band live (even if they suck).

Living outside of your career does several things for you:

  • You’ll use more parts of your brain, thus strengthening the entire brain.
  • You’ll be more creative, especially with problem solving.
  • Your life won’t revolve only around work, which is good in the event that you ever want to change careers or you are laid off.
  • You’ll be more balanced and I promise, that is a key to happiness.
  • You’ll learn new things, and expanding your horizons makes you a much more interesting person.

The list goes on, but I think you get it. While we’ve repeatedly focused on your career and advised you on how to get ahead, you must remember that your career is the main dish on your plate, but you have to have sides – and that’s where fun and hobbies come in!

Now go get ’em, but don’t forget to doodle and daydream sometimes!

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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