Are You Losing Your Soul?

Goodbye, Nights and Weekends??  Most Americans believe the 9-to-5 workday no longer exists, according to a survey by Management Recruiter International.  Of the more than 3,500 executives polled, 61% said the traditional workday hours have disappeared.  Many people don’t even look forward to weekends because they no longer exist.  As more people gain more control over when and where they work, it seems neither the workday nor the workweek have a distinguishable beginning or end. 

This is another of those blessing/curse things.  We welcome the flexibility that technology allows but the breakneck speed many of you know in business is further blurring the line between work/home/family/leisure.

Already workers from the factory floor to the executive suite are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Many professionals like real estate agents have convinced themselves that to be competitive they must be available 24/7.  Many have cell phones, lap tops, and pagers within reach at all times.  I see people in church who are text-messaging and Twittering during the service.  I don’t really think they are absorbing the intended worship experience.

Watch this blurring of lines in your worklife.  The natural cycles of work and leisure and taking time for the weekly Sabbath will not disappear without leaving a devastating trail.  If you just exhale in your breathing, you will turn blue, pass out and die.  You must take time to inhale the clean, pure, wholesome air to continue living.  If you just work and never take time for leisure, you will pass out in some form:  there will be family, emotional or physical death.  The “company” may not create the boundaries; you will need to create your own.  Working on my own allows me to build in times of Sabbath rest during each day – not just once a week.  I often break to go for a walk – or take a nap if I’m feeling especially busy.  Yes, the busier I am the more likely I am to take breaks for the inhalation of physical and spiritual health and inspiration.

Don’t equate time with productivity or profitability.  The most successful people I know have plenty of leisure time – in addition to plenty of money.


“If you are losing your leisure, look out.  You may be losing your soul.” – Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) U.S.-born British essayist, biographer, critic

 “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mohandas Gandhi

“Only those who are able to relax can create, and then ideas reach the mind like lightning.” – Cicero

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26 Responses to “Are You Losing Your Soul?”

  1. Josh Says:

    Great post, Dan. When I worked my J-O-B, it was typical for me to work 60 hours a week. Now that I am calling the shots with my own business, I can see the trend of working more and more and more beginning to creep in. Before, I felt that there was a great deal on the line — stock options, raises, praise from the boss. I now realize that didn’t mean much and feel that there is even *more* on the line to succeed.

    When I start to feel the whirlwind creep on me, I think about what you or Dave Ramsey said (maybe you were quoting Dave?): A wealthy man’s time horizon for investments is 5 – 10 years while a poor person’s is this week or month. The wealthy take a long term view of the world.

    As entrepreneurs, we have to take a long term view or else we will face certain burn out. If we are always “doing”, we have no room for “being.” We are at our best and most creative when we are humans being.

  2. Mark Says:

    Losing? Losing? Lost. Our management’s latest demand is empathy for the customer in addition to performing the functions of the job. What they don’t address is how, if you are eternally beaten, you have any feeling to have empathy with….

  3. George A Phillips Says:

    Hey Dan,

    As usual another great post. I constantly look forward to reading your newsletter for the wit and truth it contains. In this post you talk about those blurring lines, as an ex-longhaul truckdriver I can say from experience that this can happen unexpectedly and deceptively. In the trucking industry you can more or less set the hours you want to work, within the DOT regs of course;), but if you get to thinking just one more run, one more mile or one more hour and it will be enough you will look up one day to find there is nothing left to work for. I thank God I got out of that kind of rat race when I did. I have had relapses of this at times when trying to get new ideas of the launchpad, and I just want to say to all your readers don’t let money or business dictate your life leave that to your heart and your spirit.

  4. duckfetchr Says:

    Great write up, Dan.

    With technology the way it is, it certainly is becoming easier for people to take their work anywhere and conversely, it is easier for their employer’s to find them anywhere, anytime. That’s the curse side of it, if you ask me.

    I think that the lines are starting to become blurred for me as well. The difference being, I’m blurring them on purpose. I believe that if I’m really pursuing my passion, those lines will be blurred not because I’m working all the time, but because my work and my leisure and my family are all intertwined with my calling.

    By the way, the line you mention about not equating time with productivity reminds me of a story that Zig Ziglar tells about the researcher who worked with the processional caterpillars. Bottom line was that they starved to death because the confused activity with accomplishment.

    Thanks for all you do and your inspiration!

  5. Bryan Says:

    Being in the banking business and based in Asia, my work days have always been long. But the ubiquity of technology has worsened this problem. One is now expected to be available all the time but this is a focus on quantity, not quality. I think that people stay connected all the time for three reasons 1) they are expected to and don’t want to be seen otherwise, 2) they don’t want to be out of touch when others are in touch, and 3) they wish to be part of all decisions. None of these reasons have a real business justification. If people need to contact you in an emergency, they will; constantly checking proactively does not help.

    I’ve also observed that people who work extended hours often do so inefficiently and risk making others inefficient. Just as sleeping on a problem often allows one to come up with an answer, time away from work helps in the same way.

  6. Damon Says:

    I currently work a dead beat job. Every week I see people either being called in on their day off, asked to stay late, or come into work early. And what for seven bucks an hour? What is this craziness?

  7. Rob Says:

    Very nice post Dan. I concur with Josh’s response. And just to add that statement about a poor man’s horizon is a week, and a wealthy man is 5-10 years, while some of you may already know that in Japanese tradition it’s normal to see 3-4 generations into the future. We’re talking 150 years! Wow! It’s a wonder of how you can make a life plan that long, but as long as you have Goals and a true purpose discovered anything is possible through persistence and faith. As Earl Nightingale says as well, “Concentrate on your goal everyday. The rest will take care of itself”. Remember you are what you think about, and if work is all you think about then that’s what you are… work, work, work….. Take at least an hour everyday to appreciate, think, and just “Be”. The world is not going anywhere. It can wait.. relax, you already know where you want to be, and you already know that’s where your going to be. So relax, and when “You” are ready, then take action.

  8. John Says:

    Wow! Right on point. I worked all weekend and until midnight last night to make a filing deadline. A young lawyer working with me, while spending the week 1500 miles away, was up in his hotel room for 40 hours on this project. My paralegal stayed with me until 11 pm last night. We always have deadlines – I wonder whether I should let them see this blog?*!?

  9. Dawn Says:

    You are right on target with this message. It is, in fact, my largest struggle between working for someone else and working for myself. I currently am in a job that is doing what I do well and not what I want to do for my life. BUT, since it is not a bad job, allows me to work only 5 days a week, 9 to 5, I haven’t moved toward anything else. I’m afraid to lose the flexibility of turning off my job each evening and on weekends. It keeps me immobilized and afraid to make changes. I believe that time away from work is crucial, I watch family and friends give that up to own businesses of their own that are “flexible”, but I don’t see it. I think you have to make that time, schedule it, and enjoy it. Great message. Thanks for all your advice.

  10. Debra Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. For nearly 2 years, I worked 14-16 hour days IN the office only to come home and spend my “free time” on emails, projects, phone calls, etc. Silly me, I thought this was the definition of a dedicated employee. Too bad, my dedication didn’t mean anything when I was let go. Having been consumed by the job for so long, it’s a long, hard road back.

  11. Carrie, The Barefoot Executive Says:

    Great article Dan! Thanks for reminding ALL of us (even the self-employed ‘free’ ones…) to BREATHE, to REST and to take some TIME for all the blessings we now enjoy!

    Carrie Wilkerson
    The Barefoot Executive

  12. Kevin Says:

    It’s a matter of choice. When my wife and I got married, and had children. We made a conscious choice to pursue employment opportunities that allow to the maximum amount of freedom and flexibility. The unfortunate result is reduced compensation. Therefore, we had to adjust our lifestyle to our incomes. Though we are educated and have the experience to double our income with different job opportunities, we stick to our self imposed standard so that we may have a fulfilling life with our family and friends. We have no regrets with our decision.

  13. James Joyce Says:

    I am 82 years old. I was able to move through the levels of management from Plant foreman, Supertendent, plant manager and then changed to Director of Distribution and finally as a Business Consultant.

    I never going back to 1949 ever on a 40 hour work schedule. 24/7 was always the rule. Not just to me but to everyone who was able and willing to move up the ladder.

    Was it worth it? Yes and No. My children benefited from the $$s that I brought into the family. But I did not have much time to be a hands-on father. What time I did was quality time from my point of view. Some of my children share that opinion and some do not.

    It all depends on ones basic personality.

  14. Jean Says:

    I am trying to find the courage to leave my JOB and find work I truely love. I have a passion for people and animals. I earned around 100K last year, won awards for sales goals and a free company paid trip out of the country, I don’t pay for the gas in my car or the car. I get other perks as well but I am unhappy because of my JOB. Most nights after work and some weekends I spend working or worrying about work. I love what Dave Ramsey does as well as Dan Miller, both fulfilling their lives while making a tremendous difference in the lives of others.

  15. Steve Says:


    Thank you for your post. I’ve tried to express what you’ve posted for years.
    This post is great

    Thanks again,

  16. Marina Says:

    Great post.
    I recently read a book called “How not to go home from work exhausted”. Great read, and it made me to rethink the whole work and leisure issue.
    Even though I am still working for someone but will be doing something of my own soon, while I am working 9-5 I try to take many breaks and incorporate more play in my day! My productivity and creativity has increased, I don’t come home exhausted and actually have the strength and energy to make nice supper and play with the kids!

    I have experimented not taking breaks too – and a day only filled with work leaves me depressed and exhausted.

    I also don’t rush in the morning and actually make a nice breakfast which fills me up until lunch time (before I used to just grab something and be hungry again in an hour). I have seen a great change in the way I feel and work when I have a fulfilling breakfast that does not bring my sugar levels up!

  17. Randy Patterson Says:

    After almost 20 years in the telecom industry, I was laid off by my employer for the second time in 6 1/2 years. Prior to being laid off, I had read “48 Days” and then, more recently, “Monday’s”. After much prayer and introspection, I believe that I’ve pinpointed my passion (I’ll cover that in a separate e-mail to you, Dan, for your insight).

    Prior to being laid off, I spent the last four years literally being on call 24/7. Not an imagined “on call”. A real demand placed on me by my employer and the customer. I lived and died by my “Crackberry”. With each vibration of it, my stomach would instantly turn into knots. Pavlov would have loved studying me! LOL!!!

    While I’ve made a survival move by going into sales with another telecom related company, I’m laying the ground work for my newly discovered passion and hope to pull the trigger on it within the next six months. And, if and when I achieve my dream, my Crackberry (yes, I still have one!), will have a far less physical impact on me.

    Dan, you’re work has had a tremendous impact on me! I hope to meet you in person sometime soon!

    Randy Patterson
    Allen, TX

  18. Tom Chedester Says:

    The Greek word for “soul” in the New Testament is the same word from which we get the word “psyche”. If we lose our God given personality to the temporal tyranny of the undone, then we have sacrificed our uniqueness for something that won’t matter next week or next month, and certainly not for eternity.

    Jesus set a great example of drawing away from the crowds and the pressure daily to stay in touch with the Father. If we are not doing the same, we will soon be like a boat on a course without a chart or a compass. We cannot know ourselves, or our purpose without continual communication with God.

    We are constantly engaged in spiritual warfare. A soldier cut off from his commander is lost, unsupported, ineffective and soon becomes a casualty.

    We stand to lose much more than a replaceable job when we neglect our own calling, our abiding in Him, and our families.

  19. Ken Thompson Says:

    Hello Dan, great article! I believe we live in a hurry-up generation and basically want everything yesterday, me included. We have lost the idea of balance and tend to tie who we are in what we do. In our American culture there is a battle going own where work is winning and our families are suffering a great deal. Time is a very precious resource that we all have the same amout of. However, I choose to honor my wife and to be the Dad that I never had. Making the choice is a daily battle in our “succeed at all cost culture”, but I chose to be their for my family. Years ago, I was a nurse taking care of two patients in the hospital, one was a CEO, the other a CIO. The worked 60 – 80 hours a week for years and eventually both men had a stroke. Their companies that reaped the benefit of all their time let them go. Now, the families that did not know them, in their own words, “were stuck with broken men”. I felt each of their pain and believe that God had provided a valuable lesson to me. Make a choice to “Make the memories” and to trust what God has provided you as there are no do – overs! Seek Balance!

  20. Darla @ UltraBeautyBoutique Says:

    I agree with you on needing to forget about work for a while. I used to obsess about work but took a 4 day sabbatical mid-February and it completely changed the way I look at my computer/technology.

    I have no problem leaving my computer for an entire day if I want to take a day of rest.

    I try to schedule blog articles well in advance and answer client questions right away the next morning on the days I take “off”.

  21. Ann Says:

    Wow, you hit the nail on the head with this one. Corporate America is sick. They demand increased loyalty and time from their employees for less money than ever. The bottom line is the only thing they seem concerned about. It is so easy to get caught up in it and sacrifice the things that you think mean the most to you for the company store.

    I have been looking at ways to increase our family’s income streams in order to help my husband escape. I have read 48 Days and other publications (No More Mondays looks intriguing). After being out of the workforce for twenty three years to rear and homeschool our children, the jobs available to me were minimum wage type gigs that required unbelievable loyalty for the pittance they were willing to pay.

  22. David Says:

    This is great posting Dan, as usual. Although spending more time and essentially outworking or outlasting the people around me is how I personally have made it to this point in my career and I am by no means what I consider successful in terms of the standards that you and Dave Ramsey set. Now at a relatively young age, I also face a terminal medical condition; so to add to your point, if there is any question in the mind or your readers, your advice is right on. No matter what it takes find a way to get to the place where Dan describes, so if something unexpected happens, like in my case, you will not be faced with the fact that all that time you spent away from your family or doing what you really love was worth it. I am not sure to whom the quote/paraphrase belongs but now I really know that all that time I spent essentially working for someone else is not what I want to sum up my life on a tombstone. I have a passion for what I do now, but I should have found a different way and spent more time with my young sons.

  23. Phillip Says:

    I think this is one of the major detriments to our society. I left a ministry position in a church because of the constant pressure to “do more.” As a single minister, I allowed the stinking thinking by that church’s culture that because I was single, I could take on this new project, handle this new responsibility… “since you don’t have anything else to do.”

    I say this as a warning to ALL executives…. and church leadership (boards, Sr. Pastor’s, etc)… if you want to make people hate you, hate God, hate the church, hate your company and its culture…. force people to work more hours than they should on a regular basis… they start to feel kidnapped with a guarantee of no escape…. up and until they get sick and tired of you… and decide to take 6.8 weeks until they have no more Mondays (do the math… its 48 days), and become healthier, wealthier and wiser… and use their wisdom to take even more from your workforce (current and future)… then YOU’LL be working the extra hours for nothing!

  24. Dustin Says:


    It seemed a little ironic that I waited until today to read your post. Just a few hours ago I was running all over and thinking about this issue in my own life.

    I recently started my own real estate brokerage and things are moving along at a decent pace. However, it has already become obvious to me that people expect me to be at their disposal all hours of every single day. It’s really poignant that you mentioned real estate agents specifically in this article.

    I am curious if you have any resources, in your arsenal or material from someone else, that can help folks like me learn time management! I would be so blessed by some insight from a seasoned vet such as yourself.


  25. Patricia Gilliam Says:

    I’m both traditionally employed and self-employed. I want to thank you for your 48 Days book because it looks like I’ll be transitioning into what I really want to do in life within the next 12-18 months, which is freelance writing on the web. I’m 24 years old, and I knew I wanted to do something different from what most people are taught after watching the stress and frustration my Dad’s job caused him as I was growing up.

    I currently work in a corporate environment, and it’s sad to me how much some of these places want to “own” their employees lives. People my age are usually poorly prepared for it and just go along out of fear of losing something that’s not that secure in the first place. They let a company take over their life, not overnight but inch by inch.

    Then you have weird people like me who are getting 1/3 of the work in the office done and have a life at the same time. It’s all about priorities–I know that God’s my source, and if anyone is going to be directing my life it’s going to be Him.

    Great blog article! I’m going to start visiting often.

    Take care,

    Tricia Gilliam

  26. Jay Says:

    I enjoyed reading your comments and the comments of the other visitors. As a public high school principal, June and July are the only months out of the year when I have all of my weekends. Our board of education is 4/5 employed by a Japanese auto company so they expect more and more each year. I decided to turn my cell phone off when I get home for a couple of hours each evening…I don’t care who I miff off!


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