The Question

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

"People today spend too much time on personal enjoyment - doing things they like to do - rather than doing things they should do."

From Volume 1 of the Official Test Collection.



This is a sample TOEFL essay written by a native English speaker.  It follows our TOEFL Writing templates for independent essays.  If you find it helpful, please remember that we also have many more sample essays for you to work with.

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Sample Essay

          The question of how our leisure time should be spent has been debated for many years. Many people feel that people today spend too much time on personal enjoyment, but I hold the opposite opinion. I feel this way for two main reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

          ​First of all, people spend more time working than ever before, which means that broadly speaking, individuals are spending a lot of time doing things that they should be doing. Studies indicate that we spend more time at our offices than ever before, and that smart phones and internet access means that people continue to work even when they are not being paid. My own experience is a compelling example of what I mean. I work for a large investment banking firm where my scheduled workday is from nine o’clock to five o’clock, but I actually average about eight hours of overtime every week. I do not do this because I enjoy it, but because I feel a sense of obligation to provide a service to my company and earn money for my family. Everyone at my firm does the same thing. We often compare ourselves to our parents, who almost never worked overtime nor took weekend calls and e-mails from their bosses. It seems like the present generation emphasizes professional obligations over  personal enjoyment.

          ​Secondly, it seems to me that many popular leisure activities include a self-improvement aspect, which means that even our hobbies fall into the realm of what we should be doing. One of the most popular pasttimes these days seems to be long distance running, an activity which is also incredibly beneficial for our health. Another perfect example is the way I spend most of my free time working out at a local gym. Although this is certainly enjoyable for me, part of why I do it is that it keeps me strong, healthy and fit. This makes me both a better family man and a better employee. I consider all of these to be things that I should be deeply concerned about.

          ​In conclusion, I am of the opinion that people today do not spend an inordinate amount of time doing things that they like to do. This is because people work longer hours than ever before, and because even our personal hobbies tend to involve an aspect of obligation.