How to Balance Work & Life: My Wakeup Call

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My last post on the blog was on November 30, 2022, almost a year ago. Just about five years ago, I thought I wanted to become a full-time blogger, and that this blog would become by stable side business, if not a full-blown business one day. Well, it didn’t happen.

I realized how hard it was for me to make money blogging. And honestly, I was burned out and frustrated with the slow revenue growth of the blog. In a nutshell, I think I didn’t do it right.

Then, I discovered a new passion in early 2019: coding. I doubled down on this new adventure. And it paid off. I became a self-taught software engineer at a big tech company on the west coast.

I spent less time blogging. And at one point, I just stopped writing new blog posts altogether. My mind and energy was focused on becoming a better developer. I was working toward a promotion. It wasn’t just for the money. It was also a way for me to get validated on my team, at my company, and in the industry.

I started working like crazy day and night. And in the process, I sacrificed time for family, friends, and fun. I had a goal in mind, and I wanted to achieve it, period.

However, it took a toll on my health, my family, and my relationships. And most important of all, although work was going well, what I got out of it didn’t meet my expectations. I become frustrated, angry, disoriented, and disillusioned.


Is it all there is to life?

I gradually realized that the answer is no. My mentors and my husband kept telling me to enjoy life and live in the moment. I didn’t listen to them.

I was working towards something in the future. And I kept creating new goals for myself.

For me, I was living for the future. The present was just for me to prepare for what was ahead. And that is not a good way to live my life. It’s not a good way for me to treat other people around me.


In a couple of days, I’m going to a personal finance retreat. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Personal finance, though put in the backburner due to my career change, is still something I’m interested in.

This time, however, I made the commitment to enjoy the moment and purchased the ticket to attend the retreat for a couple of days. My husband is totally supportive and wants me to take time off work. And honestly, I also want to have a getaway to rethink and reprioritize my life.

I have been married for 10 years, but it be the very first time I will be traveling for fun without my husband and kids, or just alone for that matter.

For years, Mr. FAF have been encouraging me to go somewhere alone for a few days to recharge. But I was worried about so many things: him staying at home with the kids, me missing out on my work time and thus productivity, me spending so much money on just a couple of days away, etc. And I never went.

This time, I will just prioritize my mental health and my wellbeing. I will be at the retreat with other like-minded folks. I don’t have much expectation. I just want to meet new people and forget about my work for a few days.

In fact, I have been taking a week off of work, something I rarely ever do. Even when I’m sick, I will take maybe 1-2 days off and force myself to finish whatever it is I need to do.

Mr. FAF told me it’s about time I took time off work to relax. And I agree.

The meaning of work

A lot of folks in the finance independence community say that our jobs are just a tool for us to achieve the lifestyle that we want. I heard that again and again, but it never sank in.

I let my work be one of my top priority. I didn’t want FI. I wanted to work. I wanted to get promoted. I wanted to become a better developer. I wanted to succeed at work. But the question is for what?

I will still try my best at work. But from now on, I want to work hard during the hours that I get paid for and spend the rest of my day on something else, whether it’s my family or a side business or both. Or maybe I will just try to enjoy life more.

I used to think watching movies was not a good use of my time. At the end of a movie, I have accomplished none of my tasks for the day. One of my friends said that’s the definition of entertainment. You don’t need to achieve anything when you relax. I need to keep that in mind from now on.

I have been debating whether to write about the retreat after I attend it. The truth is although I don’t blog as often as before, I still check out personal finance blogs sometimes. It’s usually when I get burned out at work and want to find an outlet.

Reading personal finance blogs is nostalgic and calming for me. But maybe I should just try to develop new hobbies. Maybe I should try to cook more often. I don’t know for sure at this point. But I know that I can no longer overwork myself.

I need to learn to enjoy life more and spend wisely the money that I work so hard to earn so that it can bring me and my family joy. I need to find joy outside of work. And that’s what I need to try to do going forward.

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10 thoughts on “How to Balance Work & Life: My Wakeup Call”

  • I had been wondering how you were doing! It’s been so interesting seeing your progress over the years. I miss the food diaries from way back 😅

    • Haha thank you for bring up those food posts! It took a while to put them together, and the audience’s interest kind of died down over time, so I no longer post those. Good to see your comment!

  • How old are the children now? How are they doing? When you are retired the children and your husband will be your main interest in life. Keep the door open so that they will want you in your life.

    • They are 5 and 8. They are doing well. You put it nicely. That’s something I need to keep in mind and act on every day!

  • Welcome back! I hope the retreat is successful for you. A work life balance is super important, and if you and Mr FAF are hitting all your financial goals, some me time is easy to achieve!

  • I’m glad that your family supports you in your decision to take a retreat and spend time for yourself. I totally understand that you work hard and want the best and sometimes it could make you feel like lack of work life balance. I’m actually reading your post when I’m sick and taking a day off work. I have been working hard and hope for a promotion too but didn’t make it and still feel that I’m burned out for work without taking enough care of my family and myself. I do strongly feel disappointed and wonder why I worked so hard and not receive the results I wanted. At the end of the day, I realize that I need to work for myself first rather than spending time working for the company and ignoring myself and less time on my family. No matter how hard I tried, company will always be able to find someone else to replace me at any time when there is no one else that I could replace to take care of myself and my family. Hope you enjoy your retreat and feel recharged afterwards!

    • That’s a great realization. I know how it feels not hitting the promo goal. Take good care of yourself and your family. They need you the most!

  • Good to have you back and I hope you write about your retreat. I am often guilty of the same – all work, and nothing else. I’ve been at my current job almost two years and have not taken more than a day or two off here and there – not a whole week, and no plans to. Maybe I need to rethink that!

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