Learning & Development

Have you ever wondered if your child will live to work or work to live?

Written by Jitin Chawla
Published: November 5, 2022

Homearticle-breadcrumb Parenting Topicsarticle-breadcrumb Educationarticle-breadcrumb Articlesarticle-breadcrumb Have you ever wonder...

Eminent career counsellor and a founder of Centre for Career Development with more than 21 years of experience in mentoring students accross the world.

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Are you one of those parents who confuse having a career with having a life? 

Are you one of those parents who allow their kids to do what they love, or maybe you fall into the category of people who will allow their kids to work just for survival?

This article would be for you if you answered yes to any of these questions.  

Most of us agree that work is essential to everyone’s life. It has become a medium that gives individuals a sense of accomplishment and joy. However, when your work limits you from achieving the aforementioned, you need to evaluate whether you are living to work or simply working to live. Let’s look at what these two situations mean and what could be the implications of either for your child: 


Many people associate their self-worth with their job. They believe that their career defines them entirely. But this is far from the truth. Our career is beautiful, but if it’s all left of us, then that’s where it becomes detrimental. It would help if you never allowed your children to believe that their career is the only thing that gives meaning to their life. A career doesn’t define us because there is so much more to life. 

Generally, when someone lives to work, they tend to love their job so much that they cannot find a happy medium between their professional and personal life. These people work as much as possible. This is unhealthy, and sometimes it can drive an individual to sudden burnout. This is when a person starts feeling physically and mentally exhausted, which can lead to unproductivity and poor-quality work and end up sacrificing one’s well-being. 

As parents, it is essential to remind your children that study and work are what they do and work is not who they are. 


On the other side of life’s spectrum are those who work to live. These people focus more on their personal life than their work. Their primary motivation for working is getting enough money to sustain themselves and their families—even if it means working in a profession they despise!

As a parent, one should not let their children fall into such a situation. We should support our children’s career choices, even if they are unconventional and not what we want them to do. This is because when our children love their work, they lead a more meaningful life where they appreciate their work and derive meaning from what they do daily. 

So, the million-dollar question is – Should our children live to work (i.e., feel deeply invested in and fulfilled by their career and spend a great deal of their time and energy on work-related pursuits) or work to live (i.e., accept a role that may not excite them, but which gives them the means to pursue hobbies, to travel and to otherwise spend their free time in ways that satisfy them)?

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The choice is not easy, and we need to consider work-life balance. 

Work-life balance is the relationship between your work and other essential things in your life, like your family, sports and social life, household chores, volunteer commitments, and so on. 

When you have an excellent work-life balance, you’re more likely to have the mental and emotional energy to enjoy life, manage stress, and prevent burnout at work, which will benefit you personally, professionally, and academically.

This is what we need to teach our children – to have a work-life balance. 

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

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of people worldwide to reconsider what a healthy work-life balance looks like. Faced with the prospect of serious illness, quarantines and isolation, many realized that they were too focused on earning money and lacked a healthy balance between their professional and personal life. 

However, creating a balance is the best way to live life. How can one achieve this? By working on themselves and starting a journey to find one’s motivations and beliefs.

Jim Rohn stated, “If you work hard on your job, you can make a living. But if you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.” We can help our children live a better, more balanced life by giving them the following pearls of wisdom:

  • Make room for activities or interests that make them happy; pursuing hobbies can help lower stress levels and increase motivation.
  • Journal or listen to favourite podcasts, watch movies, read a non-academic book, or cook a meal with the family. 
  • Exercise, eat a healthy diet, go outdoors, and do sports. 
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness, which help them get better focus, reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Take small breaks regularly to give their brain some rest and time to improve.
  • Spend time with loved ones and socialize with friends, as a network of supportive relationships will help them cope with challenges in all areas of your life.
  • Finally, set clear goals and effectively manage their time to reduce feelings of anxiety and improve the quality of their work.

Remember, they can’t do a good job if their job is all that they do. 

Life is never about one thing, so we need to remind our children to find a balance between various things in their life. Make sure that they are constantly exploring their potential. Success is different for every person, and it can take many forms. To tie it to a job is viewing things in a narrow sense. An individual should assess the meaning of success and what constitutes it. 

Life is too short to waste on something 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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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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