Do You Live to Work or Work to Live?

Blue Mosque
THAT my friends is the famous Blue Mosque, as seen from the rooftop terrace on top of the hotel we stayed at last week in Turkey. The Blue Mosque is world renowned as a place of prayer for people of the Muslim faith.

Another spot we visited was Ephesus, which is where St. Paul wrote the book of Ephesians in the Bible. The city was actually built well before Paul’s time, way back in 550 B.C.

Say WHAT??? 550 B.C.???

There’s few buildings in Canada or the States barely a 100 years old let alone 1000s of years old!

Throughout our two week trip, I was constantly blown away by the rich history, culture, people, food and so many other amazing things Turkey has to offer. If you ever get the chance to go, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it.

At several points throughout the trip, my partner Sarah and I kept saying to ourselves “Why don’t we travel more often? We should do this EVERY day!”

On the plane ride home, while we were anxious to get home to see our friends and family, the thought of getting up for work on Monday did not have the same appeal as what we had just experienced for two weeks.

This got me thinking about a simple dilemma we all face each and every day, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

Am I living to work or am I working to live?

Just before heading out on holiday and in honour of Labour Day, I posed this question in a Facebook poll to find out what you and others might have to say.

Maybe it didn’t get the attention or visibility it deserved, as I posted it on a long weekend and, hopefully, everyone was out “living” rather than “working” :)

But, I thought it would be a worthy discussion here to see what people have to say.

First, let’s examine both sides of the coin to understand that characteristics describe those who live to work from those who work to live.

Live to Work Work to Live
Work as many hours as possible, in hopes of earning recognition or a promotion for all your hard work Work smarter, not harder, so you can minimize your time at work and enjoy life outside of work
Measure success by your title or number of rungs climbed on the corporate ladder Measure success by the number of places you’ve visited, experiences you’ve had or friends you’ve made
Worry about how much MONEY you need to make in a year to enjoy life Worry about how much TIME you need in a year to enjoy life
When people ask “What you do for a living?”, you respond with
“I’m an <insert job title> for <insert company>”
When people ask “What you do for a living?”, you respond with
“I live to <insert your passion, hobbies, interests>”

The “What do you do for a living?” question always gets me.

Society has trained us to automatically respond with the our job or occupation as the first response. Yet, think about the question “What do you do to LIVE?

Do you seriously LIVE to be X employee for Y company?

Try asking this question at the next dinner party or networking event and see what people say. You’d be surprise how very few people answer with what they REALLY do to live.

So, what has this got to do with bootstrapping or becoming an entrepreneur?

Well, this is meant to put things in perspective and challenge your motivation for pursuing your own business. Many of us become entrepreneurs because we want to “work to live”, but end up following the “live to work” route instead.

Picture this…

  • You’re old and retired after a long, eventful life.
  • You’re sitting on the porch at Horizon Village (or whatever old folks home you may end up at)
  • You’ve now got all the time in the world now to sit back and reflect on your life.

You lean over to your partner and say…

“Man, I’m sure glad I worked so hard to get to be CEO or start ABC company.”

Or, would you lean over and rather say…

Ephesus - Old Library Ruins

“Remember that time in Turkey, when we visited the Blue Mosque and those ruins in Ephesus? That was amazing!”

You make the choice!

I’m not saying you’re better off one way or the other. You need to decide for yourself which way will get you to accomplishing what you want out of life.

I’m sure you can tell which side of the coin I’m on. While it’s a challenge some days, I choose to work to live.

And, “What do I do for a living?” you might ask…

I live to travel the world, hang out with my family, friends and dog and help others discover their true passion in life.


Over to you…

What do YOU do for a living? Do you live to work or work to live?

Leave your answer below or take a moment to answer the Facebook poll.

BTW, did you know that Labour Day came from the labour union movement as a holiday to celebrate the achievement of work/life between 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of rest?


  1. Allan Rwakatungu says:

    Great article , something I think about everyday. My family (fiance and baby boy) live apart because of work – is it worth it?

    • Thanks Allan!

      That’s a tough question that really only you can answer. In my opinion, family should always come first. However, there may need to be certain sacrifices you need to make to provide for your family or “work to live” to be with your family. Hopefully, the separation is only a temporary thing and you work out how to remove the distance between your family and work for the long term.


  2. Sheila Holt says:

    Great write up Blair! Lots of food for thought!

  3. An important question and process to go through. Thanks for reminding us of that Blair.

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