“Life” Versus “Career” — the False Dichotomy

“Life” Versus “Career” — the False Dichotomy

I want to talk about the idea of “Life” versus “Career.”

If you know much about me, you know that I’m married and I just had my third kid. And I’m pretty young to have done that, by the standards of most people.

My wife and I got married when I was 21. We had our first kid when I was 24. And nine days ago, I turned 28. Not even thirty yet, married, three kids. So yes, by MOST standards, especially those in my industries, I’m pretty young to have done all that.

Now, I feel like the main backoff from a lot of people of starting a family so young is that it will interfere with your career.

And I understand what people mean when they say that. I mean, you’re devoting time to your kids, AND you’re devoting time to your career, so both of them are going to suffer, right?

“I’ll look for a spouse later. I’ll have kids later. I don’t want to divide my time right now, I want to really focus on what I’m doing.”

Okay, well I’m going to get really fucking zen on you right now and tell you that your life becomes easier when it’s in balance. And you know what? You already know this.

Countless work efficiency studies have found that the human mind doesn’t focus best on hours and hours of straight work, it focuses best on hours of work with breaks in between.

That’s what my life is.

I work my ass off all day, yes, but there are large segments of my day in between where I’m spending time with my wife and my kids. I’m putting as much as a full work week into my career every week, and I’m ALSO spending lots of time with my family.

I’m ALSO juggling two careers, writing and filmmaking, and both of them are expanding.

I’m going to be completely and totally honest here, and if this doesn’t apply to you, then ignore this. But quite a number of people who say they want to “wait” because they’re “really focused on their career” spend their nights and weekends partying, drinking and drugging, or trying to get laid.

Now, if they want to do that because they’re in that phase of their life right now and they don’t want to give it up, that’s fine.

But they shouldn’t blame it on their career. They shouldn’t say it’s because they’re trying to focus on their work. Because a lot of them are probably spending more time drunk, stoned or chasing tail than I spend taking my kids to school, to dance class, to the park, or just reading with them in my armchair.

Say, “I want to have a family one day, but right now I’m just having fun.”

Don’t claim that you’re too busy to have a family and pursue your dreams, too.

Full disclosure: every time my wife has had a baby, for two weeks afterward I’m not doing anything but helping her recover.

But that is a tiny, tiny time sacrifice in exchange for the amazing fulfillment that I get from my life. My family is a TEAM. My wife and I back each other up. I help her achieve her goals, and she helps me achieve mine. In fact, she probably helps me MUCH more than I help her. My life wouldn’t be possible without her, and her life would be a lot harder without me.

I’m not comparing myself to Frank Underwood, but it’s a little bit like Frank Underwood (from House of Cards, if you don’t get the reference).

The marriage in that series is the most interesting part of it to me, not the stuff that Frank does on the Hill every day. He and his wife ABSOLUTELY have each other’s back 100% of the time. It’s a totally inspiring relationship, and if you could take that and remove all the political machinations and the violence and the sex and the adultery that they include to spice up the TV show, that would be my wife and I.

Anyway, if you’re holding off on “the rest of your life” because you’re afraid of its impact on your career, you might be looking at it the wrong way. It’s not either or. It’s 1 and 1 making 3.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.


Man, I kinda wish there was a "like" button.  ~.^

Very well said.  It parallels something I tell people all the time: If you want to do, then do.  

Most humans, to me, appear as creatures walking around trapped in mazes of the mind... following a path fixed on all sides with invisible walls of culture, ideal, and faith.  They think they think, and their thought drives society, fostering in others the walls they carry within themselves.

People fixate on goals and fail to realize that the best goals are merely aiming points. 


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