When I took this job there were three features that made it very attractive. 1) Location. Both my and my wife's families are within a 2 hour drive from where we live. After spending nearly a decade in a distant place and with a child under a year old, it was very appealing to finally be near family again. 2) Collaborations. The university is investing heavily in my subfield and has made several hires in that area recently, with another planned (assuming they lift the hiring freeze one day). 3) Work/Life balance. Though Employment U is not a superpower R1 research juggernaut, research is a major focus and well supported. Our class load is not overwhelming 1:1.5 (with the .5 being a journal club-type "class") and the deans are generous about accommodating active research. At the same time, one could putter along with a small research group and limited funding and still get tenure.
I have no plans to putter, but unlike Isis, I am too tall to sleep on my desk. I aim to build a decent sized lab (not a small corporation) and juggle between 2 and 4 grants at any one time. That's what I think it will take for me to feel happy with the progress my group is making and still be able to spend time with my family. There are people in the department who pull this off, but they are the minority.
Obviously, I have been pushing hard in the last month with the two grants I am about to submit, but I would say that I am generally here longer hours than most (maybe all) of the other PIs. I have been told several times in the last couple of weeks something to the effect of "people here just don't work as hard as you are", and if my experiences being the only person in the building over the holiday are any indication, they're right. This situation might change entirely when I move to the new building, in which only active labs are going, but maybe not.
Now, I may not get any of the grants I have submitted and might find myself nursing a single grant along for several years, I have no idea. I don't think that will be the case, but at this early stage I can only speak to my ambitions and nothing more. Nevertheless, am I going to be motivated to churn out grant proposals at this rate in five years if I am one of a few who are pushing that hard? The culture of your environment can have conscience and sub-conscience effects that influence your actions. I am (perhaps naively) relying on my internal drive and the pace of others in my field to keep me motivated to keep running, but will that be enough to keep from starting to jog?
Of course, the running metaphors are also serving to remind me that even jogging would be an improvement to sitting behind my desk or standing in the lab all day. Must. Get. Exercise. Fat ass.