Martin Krieger is Professor of Planning at the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning, and Development. He blogs tips for doctoral students. I once thought of being a doctoral student—then I got over it, they work too hard. Prof. Krieger has a PhD in Physics, so that could make him a rocket scientist as well as a real doctor, I’m not that familiar with his work. Just before Christmas he wrote:
Most very strong scholars live through their work. They are very productive, and their work reflects their strengths in a deep way. There are of course scholars who work very hard, but are not so strong even if they are productive. But these very strong scholars are in a different league.
I’ve been thinking alot about work-life balance for… oh, most of my life. We know the Company Man is dead. Nobody my age will work for IBM for 40 years. We settled that 20 years ago, yet the 1980s are as far away for my kids as the 1950s were for me.
What is it going to mean to “live through your work” in 2010? Does it mean the gosh-awful 80 hour work-weeks of doctoral students (and professors)? Or the undergrad working two jobs just to scrape by? Can it mean more?
Let’s go back back to the future. Look at 2010 thru the lens of 1910, when the majority of US population (54%) was still rural. Before the industrial revolution, the norm was life on a farm or in a small shop. You lived with your work—you got up, did the chores, had lunch with the family, rested on Sunday, got stuff done. The farm was (and is) hard work, but it’s a life worth living.
It’s easy to work your life away; easy to live for your work. To live through your work, though, that seems to me something more—to find expression for your life in what you do for a living. To be strong in your chosen vocation is going to mean going the extra mile, but we can adapt schedules and communication tools to recreate the seamless farmyard where sometimes we’re balancing “real work” on Saturdays so we can picnic with the family Thursday afternoon.
Sounds like hard work, but work worth living.