Ever heard of karoshi? It’s a Japanese term used to describe a cause of death. It is a growing problem in Japan and its main victim: working class men. It is causing seemingly healthy men to die at early ages in their offices, places of work, homes, and even in their beds. What is this killer that is plaguing their nation?
Literally karoshi is translated: death by overwork. Japanese men are working themselves to death. Nobody wants to go that way. We want to leave this life surrounded by loved ones not TPS reports and expense sheets. In 2002 Kenichi, a 30 year old, died at work suddenly and unexpectedly of karoshi. He told his wife the week of his death, “The moment when I am happiest is when I can sleep.” Young healthy men are putting in obscene amount of overtime to companies to show their loyalty and are paying the ultimate price.
Work is good and it is an important part of your life, but it should not be the only part. It should not exclusively define you. As you graduate and begin the process of making work an even bigger part of your life, remember that.
Work, family, friends, church, community, recreation, and personal development should all be a part of what you invest in. Those investments of time and energy don’t have to be equal, but it shouldn’t look like a 70% investment in work and a 5% investment in every other category. If that balance is too far out-of-whack you become incredibly vulnerable.
For example, the doctor who works 70 hours a week and only invests time into his career is going to go into shock if he loses his job or even worse his ability to be a doctor. “Who am I if not a doctor?” “How am I of any value?” Someone who views themselves and their value exclusively by their position at a company, their job title, or their profession are setting themselves up for identity crisis.
As you begin you begin thinking about who you are and what kind of vocation you want to get into, remember your work doesn’t have to conflict with the other areas of your life. If you can identify your passions, utilize your talents, and create an economic plan to profit from those things, you can create a lifestyle that is balanced and fits you perfectly.