| 31 August, 2023 | 7 Min Read

Work to live or live to work? How to establish a balance

While the pandemic has changed the way we work, it is not wise to let it affect your health. When your work turns into a dreadful setting, it’s time to establish boundaries that help create a balance. 

Start by asking yourself this question- whether you work to live or live to work? Did you confuse them to be the same? Well, at first glance, both terms may look similar, but a thin line differentiates them. Let’s understand that in detail.

What’s the difference?

Work is an essential component of everyone's life. It is no longer a daily activity that has to be completed. It has become a medium that gives individuals a sense of accomplishment and joy. However, when your work is limiting you from achieving the aforesaid, the concept of work to live or live to work comes into the picture.

Work to live

Work to live is a scenario where the person has no attachment to their job. Their major motivation for working is getting enough money to sustain themselves and their families—even if it means working in a profession they despise!

With such people, the only way to live this life is to work and work harder to pay their bills by themselves. This somehow can lead to unproductivity, poor quality work, extended working hours, and more, resulting in an unhealthy working style if they are working like a robot. Some often find hobbies and happiness in other aspects of their life. In comparison, others cannot step out of the working cycle repeating every day and sacrifice for their monthly income.

However, even after spending time with loved ones, working to live is not a suitable way to go about life. Because such individuals are in an unhappy environment for around 40 hours, even more, each week. People surrounding them may find them in a place of “existing rather than living.


Live to work

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it."
Steve Jobs - Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc.


People who live to work wish to achieve success in their careers and make a livelihood by doing the work they love and enjoy. They are disciplined and dedicated to their jobs and take satisfaction in their accomplishments. Unlike those working to live, this kind of people does not take the salary seriously as they are working to contribute to society and community.

Individuals who love their work believe in appreciating and finding some meaning from it. While they are doing what they love, these people frequently prioritize their work above their personal lives. This, at times, results in exceeding the 8 hours per day with personal lives being kept on the back burner.

If you are one of these 'workaholics,’ it’s time to change a bit. You’ve got to find a way to strike a balance in your work and life.

Read more about Steve Jobs's leadership style.

Which one is better - work to live or live to work?

Work to live or live to work has been a debatable topic for years, and many people are still trying to wrap their minds around it. There is no definite answer as to which is a better option. Moreover, it depends on the personal perspectives and objectives they are striving for in this life.

Work to live and live to work both have drawbacks. People who work to live spend most of their time investing in jobs they don’t enjoy but don’t even hate. However, your job should be more than a means of earning money. At the very least, it should be manageable.

The author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey once said:

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important”.

This quote wakes up your deep thoughts and makes you reconsider how you are using your time right now.

When professional life takes over your personal life to a point where you no longer find satisfaction in what you do – that work is invading your life, and it should be addressed. You don’t want to wake up one day and realize that you could have spent your time doing something more interesting.

On the other hand, people who live to work are typically absorbed by their work, jeopardizing their work-life balance. While some of you don't mind putting in extra effort or working long hours, you're neglecting your health and missing out on life in the process.

Grove HR - Work to live or live to work - Stephen Covey quote

So, it is best to create balance, take breaks, and enjoy your life because life is more than work!

It’s all about creating a balance: Here’s how you can do it too!

It’s all about creating a balance: Here’s how you can do it too!

To every one of us, a good work-life balance will mean something different. It's not so much about dividing your time equally between work and leisure as it is about feeling fulfilled and content in both aspects of your life.

While this is not a transformation that can happen overnight, you can start slowly with small steps from today that will benefit you in the long run. For a healthy balance, you can try these things:

1. Don’t compare

Creating a life you love is in your hands. But when you envy others' lives and devote your energy to comparing, you devalue yourself and your work. A healthy work-life balance looks different for everyone, but that shouldn't be something that makes you hate where you are. The peer pressure of being someone you are not may not look dangerous in the start, but moving forward, it will get you nothing but regret!

Instead, focus on the positive side and get inspired to live a life you love. Stop comparing and find out what you strive for - it’s the best way to excel in both professional and personal.

2. Work on yourself and your career

To find success, it is more important to work harder on yourself than on your job. This rich statement has proved to be true many times in people's personal and professional lives, and it has done wonders for many successful individuals.

With each passing day, you must focus on making yourself better and not beating yourself up for being who you are/are not. To start your growth journey, find your motivation, ideal work environment, beliefs, and thrust, and manage everything gradually so that it doesn’t take a toll on your health or career.

Jim Rohn has stated that:

"If you work hard on your job, you can make a living. But if you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune."

It is incredibly true since only your true value lasts the rest of your life and helps you develop your career path and relationships continuously.

balance between work to live or live to work

3. Stay positive and inspirational

Negativity is troublesome, and it affects your health. Keeping a positive attitude isn’t just good for your physical health but also helps you handle everyday stress more constructively. So, adopt a positive mindset and see a beneficial difference.

You can do the aforesaid with just a few tweaks in your daily schedule. This could be as small as book reading, journaling, listening to favorite podcasts, exercising, going outdoors, or calling quits on something huge as over-thinking. On finding your motivation factor, be consistent. These small changes can make having a healthy work-life balance easier.

4. Set boundaries

Allow yourself ample time to complete tasks. Don't put too much on your plate. Especially when working from home, most people work flexibly, blurring their professional and personal lives.

Hence, it is recommended to stay complying with working hours as normal and spend time on your hobbies with loved ones to replenish your energy. Work to live or live to work all need a reasonable timetable.

“The gift of balance in your life – may you find the balance of life, time for work but also time for play. Too much of one thing ends up creating stress that no one needs in their life.” – Catherine Pulsifer.

5. Take time off

While your job is essential, don’t let it consume all your time. You should make room for activities or interests that make you happy. Take a few days off to refill your creative juices.

Don’t be hard on yourself and work like a machine. We as human beings all need some fresh air to look back and think of what we are doing and what we will do next.

Work to live or live to work - Grove HR's time off screen

Take time off easily with Grove HR's mobile app


It all starts with you - Bring the change.

Life is too short to be wasted on something that you don’t enjoy. There's more to life than just settling. So, make your choice between work to live or live to work and work towards building your way of life!

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