Recently there have been a couple of questions generating discussion on the level of personal commitment required for PhD positions and what kind of personal sacrifices students should be willing to make if they want to do a PhD. I wanted to ask similar questions but as someone thinking about pursuing a postdoc.
I love doing research. I love the freedom to think about projects that I find interesting and chipping away at them piece by piece. I also love university/research environments and having the resources to constantly be learning. The thing is, more than a year ago, I had a period of burnout and poor mental/physical health that I am still recovering from (actively, with the help of therapists etc). Part of this recovery is that I can no longer work as hard and for as long as I previously could. I sometimes struggle with 8 hour work days. While I am now much better than I was, I don't know how long it will take before I can again function at my best. Possibly it will take at least several more years. Given this, I don't plan on ever applying for a professor position since I think I physically will be unable to handle the tenure track years. But I was hoping to stick around in academia for as long as I can doing postdocs (in my area, doing at least two postdocs is common prior to applying for tenure-track) to keep doing what I love. Luckily during this time, money is not likely to be much of an issue, and probably when people stop hiring me after I've done too many postdocs, I will look for a more boring job.
In terms of my research output, I have had remarkable luck in the projects I have been working on, and have been producing results despite reduced effort. I still have a few years before I'm due to finish my PhD, but currently, I may finish as a competitive candidate for a postdoc. The question I'm now mulling over is whether I should be applying for one when the time comes. Will it be unfair to the PI who hires me to insist on a work-life balance? Will it be dishonest to take up postdoc positions if I do not intend to go further in academia (and taking them away from candidates who might)? Is it even realistic to expect to be able to do a postdoc with (on average) ~8 hour days? I'm also considering the possibility of taking a few months to a year off between PhD and postdoc to more intensively work on my recovery, but I've heard that these breaks might make me look bad as a candidate -- just how bad would this be?
If it is ok to apply, would it be dishonest to not reveal to the PI that I do not intend to stay in academia? Also at what point in the hiring process ideally would a conversation about expectations take place?