Pursue a Lifestyle, Not a Job

pursue a lifestyle not a job

I’m particularly annoyed today.

I’m working on an assignment for school.

And you know what??

I would ALMOST prefer being pushed off my bed onto a floor full of Legos.


That sh*t would really hurt.

But ughhh I have to construct a career map.

Yep. I have to figure out what job I’d like to have in

5 years

10 years

25 years

and so on.

I really don’t want to do this.

I’m really getting tired of being bombarded constantly with this genius idea that the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE IS YOUR CAREER.

That the job you have ultimately defines you.

I hear things like this and I want to vomit.


Because for me, the kind of lifestyle that I live is way more important than any particular job that I have.

Now before you think I’m crazy, let me explain.

I think that jobs are important. Very important. We need to eat, have money to put a roof over our heads, etc.

Personally, jobs are important because without money I can’t travel the world and well, that’s kind of what I want to do.

So I’m not in any way downplaying the importance of  jobs and careers.

What I AM saying is that not enough importance is being given to other aspects of life.





You know, the kinds of things that REALLY matter.

In regards to this issue, I’m particularly concerned about young people. For those of us in college or graduating college who are getting ready to jump into this new part of our lives, we’re constantly taught that our primary focus should be our careers.

And as a result, what do we do? We listen!

We expend ALL our energy on building a career and sadly, we tend to forget about the other awesome parts of life.

We get to be 30 years old and yea, we have a kick-ass career, but what about our friends? What about that family we always wanted? When was the last time we took a vacation?

We’re successful, yes, but in a very unbalanced way.

Now sure, some people ARE or WILL BE  perfectly content if all they have in their life is a job.

That’s totally okay.

But for those of us who desire to have MORE than just a career, we need to make sure that the jobs we take allow us to have the kind of life that we want to live.

Does that make any sense?

At this point in my life, I’m thinking about the things I want to have in the future.

I want to do work that inspires me, work that I’m good at.

At the same time, I want to be able to go home and have a life outside of it.

At some point, I want to have a family. I want to have kids (even though the thought of them right now is a tad bit repulsive).

I want to have time to spend with my friends.

I want to be able to take as much vacation as possible.

I want to have time to read and write and watch terrible reality tv shows.

Yes, that’s what I want.

So when I think of my career, I think about finding a way to have jobs that will allow me to do that.

All of that.

I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

The problem, though, seems to be the following:

There are a lot of people that want these things. There are a lot of people that want to have a life outside of work.

But then, when it comes time to making decisions, the decisions that they make don’t allow them to have that.

It’s really simple…

If you think about your job first, your lifestyle will naturally be shaped around your job.

But if you do the opposite, if you take time to think about the kind of lifestyle you want to live and THEN focus on finding jobs that will allow you to have those things, well, you’ll be much more in control of achieving that lifestyle.

Look at the positions that you strive to get to. Now, look at the people that actually HAVE those positions.

What’s their lifestyle like?

If you’re comfortable with that kind of lifestyle and can accept that for yourself, then great!

But if you want something different, it might be time to reconsider your career choices.

When I explain this thinking to some people, my ambition is often questioned.

When I explain that I’d rather have an amazing life than an amazing job, people look at me like I’m crazy.

But I don’t think that makes me crazy.

And I certainly don’t think that makes me any less ambitious.

Perhaps it actually makes me MORE ambitious.

Because I want WAY MORE than a job that leaves me with no energy to enjoy life, and I’m determined to have that.

Know anyone who could use some career advice?


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  1. thoughtsontheatre

    October 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. I think it’s a pretty typical American mold that we are always asked “oh, what do you do?” People want to hear the name of a job vs. a list of things that excite you and make you thrilled to be alive. Stick to your own voice here. It’ll guide you to the kind of lifestyle that you covet.

  2. Katie

    October 4, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Good luck with the plan! You seem to be starting with good goals in mind.
    One of the reasons I picked my field was because I thought the hours would be “normal”, like 8-5. Today I am getting ready for bed before 8 because I am tired and can do better after hours work if I wake up early tomorrow. Please keep speaking up!!!

  3. Jill Pinnella Corso

    October 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Well said. The more companies respond to our needs and offer flexible working options, the easier it will eventually be to have both a job and a life.

  4. Danielle

    October 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Agree so much! I was working in a high (for my age) position in a government agency. I loved the work but it was ruining my life. I left, took a massive pay cut, and kind of slowed/skewed my career. People think I am crazy, but I am happier than I have EVER been. I now have time to volunteer, time for new hobbies, time to exercise, time to LIVE! I am no longer travelling to the city for two days every week. I have my brain back. I am SO glad I made this decision when I did instead of saying I’d make a change ‘soon’ for 10 years and being miserable. I am now working slowly get my career back on the right path, with the aim to one day work part time in my field so I can pursue my writing and sewing interests as a second and even third career. I read an ariticle a few years ago about people who do that and I was SO inspired. Accountants who sell second hand brides dresses, medical biologists who breed butterflies for special occasion releases. It sounded like such a rewarding way to live 🙂

    1. Maia

      October 5, 2012 at 12:19 am

      That does sound like an interesting article. Do you remember what it was called exactly?

  5. Tina Del Buono, PMAC

    October 5, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Hi Kayla, from someone who has passed the 5, 10, 15, 20 and more mark I understand completely where you are coming from. In these plans that you are to make regarding a career think about what type of life you want at that stage and alter the career around that. I did this and for the time that I wanted to have children I picked a career that allowed me to work out of my home and after that stage I moved into a career that I worked in an office setting and once the children were out of the nest I moved into a career that allowed me to travel some. All of my career choices were related to my field of interest. Hope this helps. Great post as always. 🙂

  6. Lauren

    October 5, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Reblogged this on Lauren Out Loud and commented:
    All of this. You read my mind.

  7. Tara Savage

    October 5, 2012 at 2:07 am

    OH MY GOODNESS THANK YOU!!!!!! I couldn’t agree with you more, and you stated that more clearly than I would have been able to. Keep that attitude, and we all need to work on remembering that, and striving to live life to it’s fullest.

  8. carringtontutino

    October 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Kayla, I wholeheartedly agree with this. i often find myself getting into arguments with older generation family members about this very thing. I am still loking for a job that can transition into a “career”. It’s important to me that this position allow for balance of everything I feel is important. They feel I should just take a “job” that will pay my “bills” and give up family/friend/hobby time because this is what they all had to do. I say new generation, new life/work balance. Why can’t I be a kick-butt working professional, blogging sensation, sister, best friend, and aerial dancer? I think Gen Y will reach new heights with our revolutionary way of viewing life and work integration. Great post!

  9. Miss Molly

    October 5, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Very wise grasshopper… I was in my mid-40s before I came to my senses. There are people who think I’m crazy for leaving it all behind, but I’ve never been happier and while my income is SIGNIFICANTLY lower I’ve never felt as rich as I do right now.

    I have told my students for years that it is more important to focus on what makes you happy and fulfilled, than to focus on the $$$ and the prestige. When those things are gone, and they will go, all you have left is who you are. It’s time to redefine the word success.

  10. Alexandra

    October 5, 2012 at 3:29 am

    I couldn’t agree more with this post! As a student in college, I envisioned myself diving right into a high-powered career in the news industry. When I graduated, I was already working full-time at a local TV station, and felt like it was only up from there. I busted my butt working weekends and covering odd shifts consistently for two years, because I told myself that at the end of the day it would pay off. Two years later, I’ve been passed up for two promotions within the company, and I’ve been pushed down to working part time (only weekends, at night).

    I just got married a year ago, and I’ve missed out on quality time with both my husband and our families (we each have neices under the age of one) and friends. And over the course of these two years, I’ve realized that it’s just not worth it. All the time I sacrificed trying to be the “yes-woman” and trying to be available at all times, was for nothing.

    I’m only 25, and I want to ENJOY my life to the fullest instead of being stuck at work. I’m currently on the hunt for a job that fits MY lifestyle, and it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way!

    Thank you so much for this blog! 🙂

    1. elkement

      October 5, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Again I could not agree more! Only women have commented so far… probably just coincidentally? Maybe this issue is an American thing as one of the commenters has pointed out. I am from middle Europe and I have worked in an extremeley competitive, high-tech, and male-dominated environment. Nevertheless, I have experienced many (mainly male!) colleagues shifting down or ditching their classical corporate careers – this is true for young people as well as seniors.

      1. Nelly Tee

        November 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        Hi there! Writing from good old Switzerland, just shared the post on FB and I TOTALLY agree with all of it. I am born in 84 so I guess am I also part of the pitch
        I guess it’s more a structural thing, according to where you are traditional career paths’ and the resilience of the past generations is really still very strong in minds. I am going through the exact same process and a lot of my older-married-settled down friends ask: “what the BLINK are u up to?!?”… anyway, was nice to discover the blog of an inspiring young woman!

  11. Maia

    October 5, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I absolutely can relate to this post. I’ve been thinking about the very same things in my life. Part of me wants to work for myself, and the other part wants to stay where I am now because I love it as well. But figuring out which path will provide me the lifestyle I want is the challenge.

  12. Miss Molly

    October 5, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Reblogged this on Life as I know it… and commented:
    I really like this gals blog and views. i left her this comment today after reading her post.
    “Very wise grasshopper… I was in my mid-40s before I came to my senses. There are people who think I’m crazy for leaving it all behind, but I’ve never been happier and while my income is SIGNIFICANTLY lower I’ve never felt as rich as I do right now.

    I have told my students for years that it is more important to focus on what makes you happy and fulfilled, than to focus on the $$$ and the prestige. When those things are gone, and they will go, all you have left is who you are. It’s time to redefine the word success.”

  13. Diana Pinto

    October 5, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more Kayla.It’s really important to have a balanced life.It’s important to strike a balance between career and personal life,thereby living a more ful-filled life 🙂

  14. Michelle

    October 5, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Funny you have this topic today, I was driving my 17 year old son to meet a friend and we had this actual discussion this morning. We live in the country and many people at my workplace are formally trained/ university graduated proffessionals but have chosen to live in the country, earn less and have time to enjoy life. I am sure that they could earn way more living in the city, but the expectations on them would be so much greater. Here their commute takes many of them 5 – 20 minutes, over time is rare, lunch breaks are spent cycling, walking, going to the gym or reading a paper. They have entire weekends to themselves and many have hobbies, friends and social lives. They realise that money can not buy happiness and that living a full life is so much more healthy and makes for a much happier life. I will take less pay and more happiness any day!

  15. TheThinkingLeader

    October 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Let me be the 1st man to say I agree. One other thing is that we are told to focus on our careers and work unevenly hard on this aspect. Recently, with the job market treating Gen Y as is has, all that work has led to considerable feelings of failure to many. It’s one thing to postpone marriage, family, travel, etc., when you’re killing it at your career, but what happens when you do all those things and suddenly can’t find a job?

    Now there’s no money, no job, no family, etc.

    Moderation is a word we’ve forgotten in our society…

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  18. Just Jewel

    October 5, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    This makes all the sense in the world! You are very fortunate and intelligent to realize this NOW while you’re still young and in college. So many young people don’t think like this and by the time they reach my age (knocking on 30’s door), they realize the job they strived so hard for is not all that they thought it would be or it is but they’ve allowed it to consume their whole life and made no time for anything else. For some by that time it’s too late. Hats off to you for realizing this now! It doesn’t make you any less ambitious. It just shows you look at the big picture instead of what should be one small part of life, the job. Good luck with your project.

  19. cherubim97

    October 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Reblogged this on mostlysincere and commented:
    Wow! It seems like you took the words and thoughts right out of my head. I want to pursue a lifestyle as well. I want to be an artist. I want to be creative, I want to create, I want to act, I want to do fun stuff. I think I may be a good (and hopefully famous) actor. I don’t know – I just want to live the life I dream of! I think the exact same way as you and I too think that I can make it. Thank you for the inspiration, Kayla.

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  21. AlwaysARedhead

    October 6, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Having reinvented myself three times in careers, my best one yet, has been my 25 year marriage and three children. For me, a job only compliments your life it does not make it.

  22. drewtewell

    October 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    One of ideas that Dan Miller, coauthor of the new book, Wisdom Meets Passion teaches is that we should work to live, not live to work. Great post Kayla!

    P.S. Have you ever read Chris Guillebeau’s blog (chrisguillebeau.com)? If not, check it out. He works on his terms and has almost reached his goal of traveling to every country in the world.

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  24. Shane K

    October 7, 2012 at 12:01 am

    John Lennon, I think he was 8 or 9, was asked by his teacher, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He replied, “Happy.” The teacher then said, “I don’t think you understand the question.” John retorted, “I don’t think you understand life.”

    The assignment that you have works backwards rather than forwards, because in order to reach your goal, which should be that point of happiness, you need to work out how to get there.

    The world and people in it plan their lives the wrong way. There is nothing wrong with having career plans. It all comes down to the individuals values. Some value raising family rather than a career. Some want to travel the world. Irregardless of what your personal goal is, you need a plan to get there.

    Say your goal is to travel extensively and often; you need a way to fund it. So, your goal should read like this: “My goal is to have travelled to Y different countries by age X.” Then you go in reverse and plan how you’re going to get there. Break it down into years, months, weeks and days if you have to. Every six months you should be resetting and revisiting your goals to make sure you’re still on track.

    The question of where you want to be in five, ten or more years should be an answer to the question of “What do I want in life that will ultimately make me happy?” Happiness takes hard work. In today’s world it’s not something you can just attain.

    My personal belief is that most goals will require some amount of financial freedom. So in that sense, careers are important. I believe the “take life as it comes” attitude adopted by most Gen-Yers leads to unhappiness and failure. That attitude leads to a mortgage, financial instability and little ability to carry out your real desires. Even raising a family is hard without money to make sure your kids go to good schools, get to travel and grow up in a healthy environment.

    So to conclude, plan your life from its end. It’s a lot easier to plan where you should be rather than imagine where you think you want to be.

    Good luck

    Shane x

  25. Brianna

    October 10, 2012 at 12:01 am

    YES! Completely agree. I don’t know who in their right mind could look at you like you’re crazy for that.

  26. broadsideblog

    October 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Great post.

    I’m in my mid-50s now and was totally driven/ambitious in my 20s, with my “dream job” as a reporter for a really great newspaper. I had no life. I had no boyfriends. When my stories got lousy play (short, in the back of the paper) I’d waste a lot of emotional energy being angry and frustrated about it — because that WAS my life.

    Since then, more than 20 years, I work to live. I am still highly ambitious and doing good work but have spent much of my time freelance. I take breaks and longer vacations whenever and wherever I wish (and can afford), can fire clients who make me nuts, and have a lot of variety in my projects. I also have the time, energy and interest to make a lovely home, good meals, see friends, work out.

    I admire your clarity on this. I also think planning ahead more than 5 years is madness as the world of work (hello, 3 recessions in the US since 1989) is so volatile for many of us.

    Here’s my latest post on this…the need for a Plan B…


  27. The Smile Scavenger

    October 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    “I’d rather have an amazing life than an amazing job” – exactly. Thank you. Good luck to you!

  28. EllaSpeakz

    October 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Ellaspeakz and commented:
    I completely agree with her! Right on sister, I think I have become a fan!

  29. swimwithnic

    October 11, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Just a word of caution…be prepared to compromise somewhere…life’s always a tradeoff.

  30. michellebazz

    October 12, 2012 at 1:49 am

    You are on the right path! Find what feeds your soul but also provides financial security. I was SO blessed to find the vehicle to make this lifestyle happen for me about 2 years ago. My family has been blessed beyond belief. I always wanted this life but didn’t really think it was possible. I’m glad I followed that “tug” and took the road less travelled.

  31. mneuber

    October 15, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Kayla, thanks for following my blog and wanted to comment on yours and congratulate you on figuring out early in life “that a job and career are not what define you as a person”. Connecting with friends,family, hobbies, spirituality is what well give you a passion for life not some corporate bs that you find out later in life that does nothing for you. And you are right we all need jobs to eat, live and pursue the things we love but if the job and career are all you have then for sure there will be disappointment. But if you balance your work life with the things I have listed above then you will be a lot happier in the long run as you pursue a job/career.

    Why do you think I am dressed up like cowboy lol… Because it took me 25 years to figure that out!!

  32. parmanifesto

    October 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    My Pastor said on Sunday, “the cure for fear is downward mobility.” It’s also the cure for discontent. Downward mobility means less stuff and more life.

  33. codyjamesharris

    October 24, 2012 at 6:25 am

    After reading through your blogs I can see why you followed mine haha. We have a lot of the same opinions and views of our generation. One thing I would say about this post is I actually think that the majority of twenty-somethings are much more concerned with a lifestyle and much less about a career or a job. Well…”majority” might be inaccurate. But I would say a much greater percentage than we would give credit. There’s been a huge shift in the last couple of decades back to what makes us happy, rather than what makes us secure. We’re willing to take risks again, pursue our dreams, and create worlds our parents persistently deem impossible. I think its our generation’s attribute of saving grace. Great blog. kudos. http://codyjamesharris.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/a-dreaming-generation/ http://codyjamesharris.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/why-dreams-are-important/

  34. Changing Lanes

    October 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Great post – well done for figuring out that there are other things to life than just career (the sooner the better). I reached that conclusion two years ago when my baby boy was born (I was 28 then). Now … trying to keep it all balanced is another story … 😉 Please see my recent post on “Finding Passion”: http://changingthelanes.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/the-ugly-truth-about-finding-passion/

  35. peacelovekappa

    November 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I love this. Our parents grew up in a different generation and our kids will too. I have been told almost daily to find that high-paying job. So while I devote hours per day to trying to find it, I find myself losing patience with the idea that the job is what I should strive for.

    it reminds of Scrooge. All he strove for was his job and in the end that’s all he had. It literally took a Christmas miracle to make him realize that, without family and friends, life doesn’t mean much.

    A great post!

  36. Laura4NYC

    January 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    What people don’t see is that eventually they are catapulting themselves towards burn-out and an unhappy lifestyle (failed marriages/relationships) by having this “dream” career they probably never gave a damn about ten years ago to begin with.

    One woman once told me that if I wanted to really know what my heard desires, I should go back to when I was 11 (before the turmoil of the teenage years) and rethink what I was striving to become then. While I believe it’s a bit far-fetched to do this (after all, I wasn’t into writing and photography back then whatsoever), I get her point in not being stained by society’s means and values. So many young people are having enough of the unfulfilling 9-5. They are packing their bags and traveling the world for months or years. And it actually makes them happy, despite not having a high position or career. Go figure! 😉

  37. Jess J.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    So this is kind of funny because…I had to do (something) like this for a class–I’m getting my doctorate in leadership. So what happened was in my 5, 10, 20 year plan I talked about the life I want to lead. How I chose to get my PhD because it would allow me to teach in college and that means flexibility to write (my passion) and travel (“professional development & sabbatical”) and be home with my future husband and child(ren). I was super up front about it and at the end I wrote, “I don’t know if this is what you were looking for, but I really enjoyed this assignment.” Because I did! I loved knowing that I am working towards the LIFESTYLE that I want. Love this post.

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  39. Morgan Campbell

    March 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I am currently a 5th year senior in college. I began my career in real estate as a 3rd year junior. I got so restless with JUST going to class and JUST hanging out with friends and JUST enjoying life. In fact, I didn’t even realize how good I had it. Now I am 23 and working as a mortgage banker and wishing that I could just slow it down. Traveling and experience things and just enjoying life carefree is very important. I already feel burnt out at 23 and that is ridiculous. At this point I don’t think just throwing in the towel and giving up my career is smart, but I do plan to scale back on work related activities and focus more on enjoying life!!

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  41. electricbohemian

    May 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I agree – in these unstable times its imperative that the right people are in the right jobs, and more importantly they are happy – that means the people in question are using their full potential. Its a struggle to see what the future is, but as one man said the future requires creative thinkers – those who can adapt to different situations. We need to get out of system that requires us to go to school, leave get a job that pays allot of money, have a family you never see, work many hours to pay for your children’s education so they can go through the same pain again. What is the point.

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    June 16, 2013 at 11:16 pm

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    October 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

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  50. shecando

    November 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the follow over at shecando. I completely agree with this article, we’ve got to enjoy it whilst we still appreciate it!

  51. C

    November 14, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I love this. THANK YOU for speaking for those of us that want a life and are very ambitious! Too many people these days believe work should be your life and I couldn’t agree with you more that those are the ones that end up feeling unfulfilled!

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    January 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    It’s so amazing to find other twenty-somethings that feel the EXACT same way & think the EXACT same thoughts on this topic! I love it, well said!!

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  92. paige

    April 3, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    This post is very old but it gave me a new perspective on my future plan and I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading it and love the fresh ideas. 🙂

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  97. lucy nyawira

    August 22, 2017 at 7:02 am

    i absolutely love this post,its so inspiring and am now ready to kick my butt follow my dreams

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