There was a very encouraging article in Nature recently on the importance of having work-life balance.

The professor admits that while he’s been tempted to lock his lab members in the lab when they were competing against another lab for first publication, that he’s never done that and actually appreciate having time off from the lab. He asserts that his best ideas came to him while he was in the mountains, far away from research and civilization.

Work-life balance is different for everyone, but what is important is that work does not become the most important thing in your life. It’s not worth it, because there is more to life than work. Family, friends and other experiences. On the other hand, though, work is important. The unemployed in America right now feel at a loss without a job, partly because they’re deprived of financial security, but also because when they lost their job, they lost the satisfaction we derive from a day’s work well done.

It’s psychology. As human beings, we’ve evolved to derive satisfaction from intrinsic values, one of which is the contribution to a greater (and more worthy) cause.

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Sept 7th 1903.

Truer words were never spoken.

What proportion of our lives we dedicate to work is an individual choice that changes over time. It’s supposed to change over time, as our priorities shift and change, as we grow and develop as human beings from adolescence to young adulthood to mature adults to seniors, as we experience different life events and watch our peers go down different life paths.

Family. Work. Friends. Traveling. Volunteering. Contributing. Experiencing.

What is important is to live life, and to live it well, according to our own, individual standards. No one else’s matters.