Your family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, associates, people you know, people you aspire to be like all seem to be driven towards being more efficient, more effective, smarter, harder working and more competitive than you will ever be, so what do you do?
You prove to them that you can work harder and better, while keeping up appearances and buying into a lifestyle that you believe reflects your worthiness or status as a reward for your hard work.
I don't have the answers but the article I read today Why Do Americans Work So Much?[theatlantic.com] has made me question my own work and life balance.
John Maynard Keynes[wikipedia.org] predicted that in the future we would barely need to work at all, yet now that the future is upon us, what happened? How is technological unemployment[wikipedia.org] working out for you?
I can't answer how things are working out for you, all I know is that people are still working relatively long hours not including the overtime and the time spent outside work doing work. It seems if we didn't work the long hours we wouldn't be able to afford to pay off the debts including loans, rent, mortgage, car, fuel bills, other travel expenses, local taxes, heating and lighting, food bills, phone bills, computer related and gadget purchases, home furnishings, monthly subscriptions, holiday travel, new clothes, and money for the weekend including beer money.
In the old days when you had a job you could expect to work their your whole life and at retirement receive a healthy pension which would not only help ensure you lived your life comfortably after you had retired but the money helped support your family.
Nowadays there is no guaranteed job security and there is no healthy pension when it's time to retire unless you have been lucky or have contributed yourself to a pension scheme which pays a good return upon maturity.
Perhaps at sometime in your career your boss has threatened to sack you because you may be slow, make too many mistakes, or some other reason. Yet how can they sack you when you are irreplacable, right? Wrong, many jobs nowadays are created in a way that makes it easier for an employer to fill a job vacancy if an employee moves on for whatever reason. Compounded with zero-hour contracts, a rise of students from overseas, workers from overseas, school-leavers with better qualifications than previous school-leavers, along with automation, leaves you doing more to demonstrate to your employer your worth to the business.
Nobody likes to think they will ever be ill yet illness or accidents do happen, and for amercians who dom't have health insurance that means paying out their own pocket. Which means they need to have a reserve of money for such events, and private healthcare can be very expensive depending upon the care required including medicine costs etc.
Throughout history, humans have learned to adapt to the environment, their circumstances, while living life to its fullest. I don't see that changing any time soon, but how you and I adapt is a question I can't answer.