THE BLOG
09/16/2014 06:40 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2014

(Not) Following in My Father's Footsteps

I'm only 24 years old but have held a job since the summer before high school when I was 13. My father taught me the benefits of hard work and dedication, and after dropping out of college, I decided to make the best with what skills I had. I entered the airfreight business five years ago, as my dad did when he was about my age, and have devoted a significant amount of my life to work.

My father passed away in December of 2013 at 48, and his death made me think a lot about my life and what I was hoping to accomplish. His last job took a toll on him, as did the few he had before it. Even when he had worked his way up to regional manager at a major freight forwarder, he was still logging close to 80 hours of work a week. He was miserable, and I remember wondering throughout my childhood why he never seemed to have a hobby or a group of friends to watch the big game with. He went to work before dawn, arrived home after dinner, and watched about an hour of television before going to bed.

Roughly two years ago, I was promoted to a supervisor position within my company, and it seemed to be the right way to go. I was given more responsibilities, a greater title to beef up my resume, and the respect of my coworkers. It wasn't until about six months into the position I realized the consequences of the job.

I was transitioned to salary, earning about $32,000 a year, but working 12-hour days at least, often without having time to take a lunch. At first, I was sure it was just the transition that was causing the excess workload, but it became clear that this was the expectation of my position.

After my dad passed, I realized I did not want to live my life in the same fashion. I was blowing off friends to work late, work on a Saturday, or just catch up on sleep. My hobbies were getting less and less attention. My already significant depression and anxiety were growing in severity.

I finally hit my breaking point a few weeks ago; after some personal time in light of losing my parents, I was back to the grind and working long hours with little reward. After two back-to-back weeks of only having Sunday off and totaling about 70 hours for each week, I had endured enough.

I am now in the process of transitioning into a part-time role at work while focusing on restarting my education and pursuing my other interests. Already the idea of not cramming in 10- to 12-hour days is lifting my spirits. I've ordered a few books and looking at classes for my real passion: writing. I'll continue to work a couple days a week at my current employer, but I'm no longer allowing myself to fall prey to the idea of working yourself to death for the slight promise of a minor pay increase or a more attractive resume.