I had been a little hard on myself because I don't enjoy playing the "rags to riches" or "struggle" life style that others seem to love so much in their game.
I had been trying to play with no motherlode and tiny/boring starter homes (most starter homes feel so impersonal and dont have much room) and sending my sims away to jobs and I wasn't having any fun at all.
So I decided to stop playing how I think the "acceptable" way to play is and instead focus on my Sims relationships and what I want their story to be.
I use the beautiful , large homes from the online gallery, because thats what I prefer. They live a very pampered life and I love that. I imagine the background stories and in some cases I will even give them the career that I feel adds to their story of who they are. And I allow myself freedom to do what I want to do. No, I don't have to do "work" in a video game. The sims is where I get to tell my own stories.
And it's very fun for me. I changed the way I played to suit ME.