While the life of a ski bum is difficult, the life of the “weekend warrior” is agonizing, especially around this time of year. It was one thing when the trip reports came from out west. But now, they’re hitting pretty close to home. December is when I first start tossing ideas around in my mind, planning adventures, and plotting escapes. And it usually comes down The Decision: what I should do vs. what I want to do.
Sure, I should just stay in the office; banking time, getting things done, and saving my vacation days for February, March, and April (when the snowpack will be deeper, the days will be warmer, and my skiing muscles will be stronger). But that’s not what I want to do. I want to drive up to Stowe or Jay, strap on some skins, and start climbing. My adventure itch hasn’t been scratched yet, and Saturdays on people packed groomers just aren’t doing it for me. I want to get out. I want to live my life.
This is the problem: I have to work. I have bills to pay, my house needs repairs, and I need to put money towards retirement. But I want to be able to get up and go at any moment, spend all my money on gas and gear, and take full advantage of every single second of daylight so that each night I can look back and say, “Damn. That was a good freakin’ day.”
This is the kind of thing that people struggle with for their entire lives, I guess. A recent study found that people are increasingly dissatisfied with their work/life balance:
According to the APA study, 39 percent of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with their work-life balance, compared to 42 percent in 2009. Furthermore, for the third year in a row, money, work and the economy topped Americans' list of worries.
We need money to live The Life, and we need jobs to get money. But then the jobs get in the way of The Life. And that’s why some people will never be satisfied with their work-life mix. People will always have to balance their needs and their wants, their responsibilities and their desires, their present and their future.
All I can ask for is a situation like I have: A fulfilling job, a solid amount of time off, a decent salary, and the chance that, at the end of some of my work days, I can dust off my hands and say “Damn. That was a good freakin’ day.”
It doesn’t save me from having to make The Decision, but it does make The Decision harder.
(I guess there are worse problems to have).
In a somewhat related note, I was thinking about these types of job-related issues earlier this year, and I wrote a short article for the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Eastern Division Newsletter that some people might be interested in. It’s mainly written for ski instructors, but it goes into some of the attributes that make one job better than another. It can be found on the PSIA-E website here (PDF, scroll down to page 22 and look for "Lessons from The Economist")