Sometimes when we work with our nose on the grindstone, it is worth it to take a step back and ask ourselves this question:

Why am I doing this?

Am I where I want to be right now in my life?

If not, can I get there?

Three years ago I was asking myself these questions. I knew where I wanted to be, but I wasn't sure how to get there.

I knew that I wanted to be doing something that I loved, that would be of service to other people and use my skills and talents to their full potential.

At the same time, I wanted the freedom and flexibility to spend time with my family and balance the ‘work' with the ‘life'.

I'm happy to say I've found the answer for me running my own business.

I've heard a lot of architects who work for themselves say they wished they could sit in the back room and design buildings all day, but at the same time confess they could never go back to working for someone else.

I've become just as ‘hooked' by the freedom of being able to determine my own income stream, and the projects that I work on.

There's no big separation between ‘work' and ‘life'. In fact, I'm writing this late at night while my wife watches a movie on Netflix.

This is one of the challenges that comes with running a business – being able to turn the business ‘off' so that we can enjoy relationships with other people in our life who don't even know what we do on a daily basis, much less understand it.

My daughter likes to say that daddy sits in front of the computer all day and does ‘this' (making motions with her hands like she is playing a piano or typing on a keyboard).

Having said that, what I'm doing in 10 years may not be what I'm doing now.

This is one of the paradoxes of the modern world. Career life is much more fluid.

I think architects have an advantage in finding an optimal life path.

Architects are trained to be problem solvers and creative thinkers.

Questioning assumptions and challenging the status quo can go a long way towards answering the 3 questions I posed at the beginning of the article.

So give it some thought, or as Zig Ziglar would say, “a check-up from the neck up”.

Check out what some of my fellow ArchiTalks bloggers have to say about work/life:

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Work | Life – Different Letters, Same Word

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Work / Life : Life / Work

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Work/Life…What an Architect Does

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The One Secret to Work – Life Balance

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
work | life :: dance

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Living an Integrated Life as a Small Firm Architect

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: Work/life…attempts

Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio (@collier1960)

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
what makes you giggle? #architalks

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Turning It Off

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Work/Life — A Merger

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project (@miss32percent)
Work Life Fit: A New Focus for Blurred Lines

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Work Life

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks: Imbalanced and uninterrupted

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #12: Balance is a Verb.

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
I Just Can’t Do This Anymore

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
An Architect's House

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Brady Ernst – Family Man Since 08/01/2015

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Father, Husband, Architect – typically in that order

Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC (@Parthenon1)
On Work: Life Balance – Cattywampus is as Good as it Gets

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
midnight in the garden of [life] and [work]

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Work = 1/3 Life

Daniel Beck – The Architect's Checklist (@archchecklist)
Work Life Balance: Architecture and Babies – 5 Hints for Expecting Parents

Jarod Hall – di'velept (@divelept)
Work is Life

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
studio / life

Lindsey Rhoden – SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc)
Work Life Balance: A Photo Essay

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Work / Life



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

4 Responses

  1. I too have found the freedom and flexibility of working for oneself to be the answer to where i want to be at this stage in my life. It is not always easy, but it is very rewarding.

  2. Enoch,
    I’m sure I’m just one of many who are glad you are doing what you are doing.

    I’ve learned a lot about this business from you and have been inspired by your accomplishments.

    Keep up the great work!


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