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Please, be lazy

Why you shouldn't stay late at work

Original image by Jeremy Geddes

Every year, I have friends who graduate and land their dream job in finance. Every year, I have friends who quit their dream job in finance. I’m beginning to think they might be the lucky ones. This isn’t a tirade against Goldman Sachs (although that’d be well deserved), it’s one against any job that enforces a work ‘ethic’ so stringent it destroys notions of leisure, self care and laziness. Don’t have lunch at your table. Don’t get in early and leave late. Don’t work weekends if you can help it. Your putting in extra work won’t change the world. It just won’t. When you sleep, people die, when you walk home exhausted, markets plunge, when you gobble down cereal, genocides continue to rage. And if this is about money, remind yourself that the extra $$ won’t matter if you have no time to spend it.

As someone who’s brand new to this adulting business, I struggle with it myself. Yesterday, I walked out of the metro and stopped dead in my tracks because I saw a man sitting down (apparently) without a care in the world. As hoards of bankers-entrepreneurs-professionals hurried off to dinner, meetings, or worse, to loved ones they’re too tired to talk to. As the sun set, as fall embraced the tops of trees. As time passed regimented yet unnoticed.

What seems like a lifetime ago, Andy from Vassar talked about leisure and time and their relation to happiness. I understand those are big, vague ideas — but that’s kind of the point. Big vague ideas need periods of quiet contemplation. It’s important to not plan every aspect of your day. It’s important to not settle into a routine so predictable it weeds out all imagination and chance from life. Work tends to do that. Not being lazy once in a while tends to do that.

I’m absolutely, 100% not saying you should quit your job. Please don’t. But please take (make) time for yourself. Once in a while, occasionally, often, try being lazy. Don’t forget to breathe.

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