“On average, first year analysts are working over 95 hours per week and sleeping 5 hours per night.” This was the headline on the opening slide of a recent Goldman Sachs working conditions survey. The rest of the findings in the survey all point to the same thing — entry-level staff are overworked.
In response to this survey, Financial Times columnist, Janan Ganesh wrote a nice article (paywall) titled Beware Goldman Workhorses, Deferred Gratification is the Worst Kind. In the article, he has advice for people in their 20s who are overworked. I have summarized the article here.
- The type of work at senior levels is very different from entry level work. People in their 20s dedicate their life to work so they can get promoted. The irony is that when they get promoted, the work gets more strategic and less frenzied. All the battle-hardening in the early years isn’t that relevant to work in a senior position.
- Our energy levels dwindle as we age. “The deferral of gratification is the easiest life mistake to make. And by definition among the least reversible. A unit of leisure is not worth nearly as much in late or even middle age as it is in one’s twenties.” There are a few reasons for this: Firstly, we don’t know if we’ll be around to enjoy the fruits of our years of hard work. Secondly, our energies drop off as we age. We encounter the first cliff in the mid-thirties. With lower energy levels, we are less able to enjoy the wealth we have accumulated.
- Dependants and responsibilities increase with age. People in their thirties might have economic power to enjoy life but they lack the freedom to do so because of kids and family responsibilities.
- “The enjoyment of life is a skill. The idea that it can be switched on after decades at the grindstone underrates the force of human habit. The talent for doing nothing, for succumbing to the moment, was never developed. Pleasures deferred can be pleasures foregone.” People who know how to have fun are charismatic and fun to be around. By developing into workaholics, we become staid and forget how to have fun.
Many people blindly embrace a workaholic life without thinking about what they are giving up in the bargain. If we find ourselves on the workaholic end of the spectrum, our future selves will thank us if we dial back on work and allow time for leisure.