Seneca’s Advice for Rethinking Work/Life Balance

“I say, let no one rob me of a single day who isn’t going to make a full return on the loss.” — Seneca

Life is fucking chaotic.

Can you relate?

For me, today will be filled with an endless amount of interruptions.

The fires start as soon as I open my laptop to begin work for the day. Dozens of emails, several scheduled meetings, and a full task list, among many other disruptions that are sure to arise.

This is how most days are. Overwhelming, demanding, and limited in time.

Unfortunately, as is the case for most people, the majority of my life is spent working. Not the type of work that I enjoy or find passion in, but rather the kind of unfulfilling work where my time is simply traded for a paycheck.

For many years now, my career has consumed my life and I feel as if I finally owe myself an answer as to why it is that I do what I do.

As I enjoyed my cup of coffee this morning, I discovered the above quote by Seneca. It sent me into deep thought for a few moments as I took some time to reflect on my career and what I’m really getting in return.

Is the desire for a paycheck really worth all the demands and stress? Is the constant need for more money really worth living a life of servitude?

Sure, I have a great house, a nice car, and own many material possessions. But the true cost of all of this is far greater than the monetary price paid.

The true cost is freedom.

“…we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.” — Seneca

Seneca had it right. We’re so driven by money and meaningless possessions which require us to give up our lives in order to obtain them. As such, nearly every day of every week is dedicated to those who pay us for our time.

And while money is essential for our survival, we’ve become too fixated on it. We’ve lost sight of what’s most important — the limited amount of time that we have on this planet.

While he was very much ahead of his time, Seneca did a great job detailing what we’ve defined today as work/life balance. He knew the importance of setting boundaries and finding happiness and contentment from within, rather than from external possessions.

Too strong of a desire for these possessions will leave you a slave to the person that pays you.

Many of the Stoics did a great job of expressing how valuable our time is and how it’s essential that we spend it wisely. Material possessions can be tempting, but our limited amount of time is by far our greatest asset. Be cognizant of the people and obligations that you let impose on that time.

At the end of your life, will you appreciate all the long hours you spent working and all the money you managed to earn? Or will you value the time that you used wisely to develop a fulfilling and meaningful life?

Think about how you spend your time. As Seneca put it, make sure you’re getting a fair trade.



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Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor

My truest creative expression comes in the form of video. Find me on YouTube: 👉 👈