Having a life outside of work suggests a couple of things: You care about finding work-life balance, you know how to turn off or tune out work and focus on yourself, your friends, or your family, and you’re probably fairly interesting.
A recent Harvard Business Review article explained that having a life outside of work actually makes people happy. But if that sounds too obvious, then it’s worth trying to understand why this is true.
But before we dive into that, I want to make the following point: Caring about things other than your job doesn’t mean that you don’t like what you do or that you’re not committed to it. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to climb the ladder, or make a lot of money, or be a leader.
It simply means that you value your time and energy, and to the extent that you can manage it, you truly understand how important it is that your 9-to-5 isn’t your entire life.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s go over why pursuing activites that have nothing to do with your career truly makes your happier.
1. You Avoid Burnout
If you’re all-work all the time, you’re bound to burn out at some point. And coming back from that isn’t always easy. Taking time to focus on personal interests and activities can actually lead you to be more creative in your day-to-day.
It’s not always possible to leave work in the office—not when we’re connected 24/7, but it is possible to insist on carving out time for yourself (and you can start by reading these tips on how successful entrepreneurs do it).
2. You Expand Your Knowledge Base
Doing more can make you a more multi-dimensional person, capable of adding to the conversation or bringing a lightbulb epiphany to the drawing board.
You truly never know what’ll spark genius—maybe it’s something your colleague says in a meeting, but maybe it’s something you come across when you’re biking on a Saturday afternoon. As Muse writer, Alyse Kalish, outlines in an article on coming up with brilliant ideas, there are eight surprising ways to do it that include drinking, showering, and even napping.
3. You Have a Reason to Power Through Hard Days
When we have something to look forward to outside of the job, it can be powerful enough to get through a tough period on the official clock. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to come up with an activity when you’re going through a hard time so you do have something to look forward to at the end of a long week (or day).
4. You’re More Interesting
If you only leave the office to go home, answer more emails, and read a book on how you can be a successful leader, you’re missing out. That’s not a rich, fulfilling life.
It’s one that’s completely focused around your job. Have you ever asked a friend how his day went, only to regret it 30 minutes later when he’s just droning on and on about his latest project? Don’t be that person.
Doing something—anything!—outside the office instantly makes you more interesting.
The next time you feel guilty for leaving the office before your boss or earlier than you usually do, just remember these four worthy reasons for why it’s actually a good thing.
Photo of people sitting by the pool courtesy of Trinette Reed/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author