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I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

  1. Apr 11, 2012 #1
    "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Top Five Regrets of the Dying

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2012 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Maybe not sex or bungee jumps, but sex during bungee jumps is another matter!

    I suspect there is a bit of wishful thinking here - i.e. I wish life were different than it really is. I tend to suspect that the dying are far less objective than those of us who have to carry on and deal with the realities of everyday life.

    When I go, I may have regrets, but not as many as I might have. Still, my 16-hour work day started at 3:30 AM today [with a bit of time dedicated to goofing off at PF].
     
  4. Apr 11, 2012 #3

    Evo

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Working too much will not be a regret when I die because it paid the bills that gave my family a happy, comfortable life. It was well worth it. Of course my company let me work many years from home when my kids were little and I had a super flexible schedule, I didn't have to ask for time off during the day as long as I didn't have a mandatory meeting.

    Ok, so I was very lucky.
     
  5. Apr 11, 2012 #4

    turbo

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    "Working hard" is not something to be sorry for, IMO. I was my own worst boss when I was self-employed. I would have been very sorry not to have made time for my friends and family, though (even when I was very busy, with deadlines). If you can't take a few days off for a hike/fishing trip when everybody needs to de-compress, your life is out of your control.

    Like Ivan, there were times when I was self-employed when I spent all my non-sleeping time trying to crank out the work. Probably the worst was when I was programming business application software and my wife would appear at the balcony asking "are you EVER coming to bed?" I was used to working on short sleep, due to so many shift-work jobs, but you can only burn that candle so long.
     
  6. Apr 11, 2012 #5
    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    If you truly love your work, then I don't see the problem. I think it applies to people who work only for the money and the work generally makes them unhappy.
     
  7. Apr 11, 2012 #6

    turbo

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    That's probably true. It doesn't take too much to make some workers unhappy. Bad work environment, unrealistic production quotas, middle-managers who are controlling jerks... The unhappiness can come from lots of places.
     
  8. Apr 11, 2012 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Yes, what you do can make a big difference. I used to do this for fun. Imagining and developing new products [usually machines] from scratch is about all I have ever wanted to do. I would be miserable if I had to stop.
     
  9. Apr 11, 2012 #8

    BobG

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    I agree.

    I think it applies to people that chose a career for the money or people that were forced into a career for lack of other options - and, unfortunately, that encompasses an enormous amount of people.

    In my case, work pretty much feels like a playground.

    Plus, your relationship with your employers probably figures into that a great deal, as well.

    In the military, you'd get comp time if you had to put in a lot hours for some project or another (at least sometimes). The bosses that drove me mad were the ones that wanted to keep track of the comp time they owed you and wanted you to use it by some certain date.

    The bosses I liked were the ones that understood that comp time didn't matter - it was being able to focus on what was most important at that particular time! Sometimes that was work. Sometimes that was family.

    Being able to spend time on my family when it was most important meant more than how many hours I worked or how many hours I got off.

    I was generally pretty lucky in that department. That's something most (but not quite all) military members understood.
     
  10. Apr 11, 2012 #9

    turbo

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    When I discovered that I could write business application programs to run under dBaseIII, that was all I wanted to do. It was an obsession. Get a few realtors, law-firms, trucking companies, and manufacturers touting you, and you have to turn down tons of work. I don't begrudge the time I spent earning a living, and I cherish the time that I spent with friends and family.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  11. Apr 11, 2012 #10
    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Regrets,I've had a few
    but then again,too few to mention
    I did what I had to do
    dee diddly doo and so on

    This is giving me an idea for a song
     
  12. Apr 11, 2012 #11

    Pythagorean

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Most people don't have the luxury of liking their job...

    I like the article, I think it's good to be reminded to put family first sometimes. Especially when you're going out of your way for work too much. It's easy to get caught up in when you're making a living as a grad student.
     
  13. Apr 11, 2012 #12
    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    *sings along*

    I agree with most of what's already been said. I think it's quite likely I'm going to be somewhat nostalgic when I'm dying (assuming I have the time to think about my life, of course), and I'm sure I'll be having a lot of what-if thoughts. Naturally, because most people spend a great deal of their time working, it's also very likely that at least some of these what-ifs involve a substitute for work. :smile:
     
  14. Apr 11, 2012 #13

    fluidistic

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    My biggest regret would be to have been a human instead of a tree that can live for more than 3500 years.
     
  15. Apr 11, 2012 #14

    lisab

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    That may not be the case on this forum, where many of us work in science, a field we love. But many, many have to take what they can get, as far as jobs go.

    I guess it was John Lennon who said, Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
     
  16. Apr 11, 2012 #15

    Pythagorean

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    I don't know how much I trust the "do what you love" cliche. I think being a porn star would make me sick of sex.

    Sometimes in science, your field alone doesn't get funding and you have to contaminate it with medical and military interests. Then what you love becomes vulnerable, exposed, violated.

    Sometimes you just get sick of doing the same thing over and over; even if you loved it once, it becomes time to move on. Taking what you love as a job only accelerates the process, ruining your pleasure time, mixing it in with societal expectations and deadlines.

    Now if I could be an Emeritus right form the start, then that may sweeten much of the bitter.
     
  17. Apr 11, 2012 #16

    russ_watters

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    This.

    Though I'm sure we have a lot of type-A, career driven people here, I'm surprised by the surprise people are displaying. The work/family/life balance has got to be one of the key dilemmas of adulthood. Not only is it tough at any one moment, but it just gets worse if priorities change. Ie, if you are in your 20s and working 60-hour weeks to get ahead, then get married and have a kid, you may realize you only want to work 40 hours so you can spend time with your family. But what if your job description or career path isn't conducive to that?
     
  18. Apr 11, 2012 #17

    russ_watters

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Yes - one of my mom's cousins is "retired", but volunteers at UPenn's cyclotron. It is certainly nice to have a job/hobby that are interchangeable, but the vast majority of people aren't like that. Most people work to make money and would rather be on a beach/golf course/kid's soccer field than at work.
     
  19. Apr 11, 2012 #18

    BobG

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Of those top 5, only two would apply to me:

    3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

    "Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

    4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

    "Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

    I wouldn't express it quite that way and wouldn't say I have that much regret over failing to express negative feelings, and definitely not enough to feel bitterness and resentment, but there's a few instances I wish I would have let people know just how much they bothered me.

    Mostly, I'm just very slow to express feelings in general, including positive feelings, and way too infrequently.

    And there aren't very many friends I wish I'd stayed in touch, but I really wish I hadn't lost touch with the kids I worked with in the ice cream parlor when I was in high school. I think those were the closest friends I ever had. And I wish I'd stayed in touch with a few of the friends I've worked with over the years (it's kind of hard when either I or my friends have moved around so often).
     
  20. Apr 11, 2012 #19
    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Working so/too hard won't be one of my regrets. I think that maybe not working much is why I'm relatively happy and healthy today, at 65. I've led a pretty stress-free life.

    I do regret not having kept in closer contact with certain friends.
     
  21. Apr 11, 2012 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    I've spent a lot of time in factories and have seen many jobs that would probably lead to suicide if that's what I had to do every day. But when I talk with many of these folks, they often indicate that their job is "okay" but they would hate to do what I do. :confused:
     
  22. Apr 11, 2012 #21

    chiro

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    In terms of working hard, I would really add IMO that it is not about working hard, but what you are working for.

    Many people work the minimum amount that they need to and they hate what they do. What they work for is not their job, but often for their own leisures, their wife/husband, and usually for many people: their kids.

    Other people don't work for these things: they work for other causes and these causes are so diverse that classifying them would not serve its proper purpose.

    Some people work so hard and for little remuneration just for the sake of curiosity, or getting a feeling that they otherwise would not get and for many of these people I would estimate that they would not regret spending their time in this fashion in such an asymmetric manner in comparison to other people.

    So yeah, for the newspaper article, the question that should have been asked for these patients is "what specifically would you have rather focused your time and energy into if you decided not to work as much?"
     
  23. Apr 12, 2012 #22
    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Good points. Some of the hardest work I've ever done netted me relatively little money, but a lot in terms of personal satisfaction. I not only don't regret a minute of that time spent, but would like to recapture the passion that compelled me to pursue those goals. The thing is, I'm older now. I don't have the same energy, the same drive. I'm pretty much satisfied with winding down, enjoying nature, being a good neighbor ... that sort of thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  24. Apr 12, 2012 #23

    BobG

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    My dad worked as a chemical engineer and he never really cared for his job. He didn't hate it and parts of it were interesting, but he retired as soon as he was financially able to.

    After he retired, he and my mom volunteered for a prison reform group, with the two of them eventually moving up to leadership of the group for their region. He's really proud of the work they did for that group. He always likes to show off the awards they won, pictures of meeting with Senators, etc. in Washington DC. This was something very special to both of them and they really enjoyed working together.

    Remembering the career advice sessions he and I had when I was in high school... "Have you thought about what you want to do for a career?" ..... "I don't think that pays very much. Have you considered doing ....?" followed by a spiel on what a person in this career does and how much a person in this career makes...

    I just have a feeling my dad was one of those that chose a career for money, and only found out later in life that "a career" can bring in other rewards than money.

    I was never responsible enough or diligent enough to worry about how much money I would have for a wife and kids that didn't exist yet. That's why #1 just has never been much of a problem. I'm the guy that made the honor roll in college - then dropped out the next semester to hitchhike to California. (And the guy that hitchhiked to Louisiana and got robbed at gunpoint by a couple of escaped convicts driving a stolen car, but that wasn't as bad an experience as one might think, either. I can't say getting robbed was one of my life dreams, but it was still kind of fun.)
     
  25. Apr 16, 2012 #24

    Borg

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    I've been on both sides of factory life. I have friends that have spent many years working in factories. They feel the same way as the folks that you mentioned.

    For me, working in a factory was the most boring, mind-numbing experience that I've ever had. I remember one day where I kept checking my watch. I finally promised myself that I wouldn't look at it again until I thought that a half hour had passed. When I did check my watch, it had been only two minutes. That was a long night.

    But, working in a factory helped to give me perspective. Whenever I was struggling with my college coursework, I would tell myself that at least I wasn't working in a factory anymore.
     
  26. Apr 16, 2012 #25

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Of course I never told them what I was making per day. :biggrin: Doing roadwork for factories is incredibly lucrative but it is a miserable life. All they saw were the long hours and the walking corpse passing itself off as me. But, honestly, it is such a miserable life that for me, no amount of money was worth it. I could only take it for a few years. So I guess I have to side with the factory workers. Still, doing their job would never be an acceptable option. Truly, I would rather be dead.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
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