Wednesday, 19 March 2014

That Work-Life Balance Business

The other morning something happened that, despite its obviousness, caught me completely off-guard. 

The other half headed out for work with cookies and lunch-pack in hand while I settled by my laptop with a cup of tea and motivation at the ready. As had become a bit of a morning ritual it was time to go through the emails, check in with old contacts and get on with the current work-load, all while tailoring the LinkedIn profile for potential next-workload options. 

And the occasional chat with the cat. 

That's right, I said it. Every once in a while I'll talk to him, while he strokes up against my leg. He'll look back, pause in between chasing cotton balls across the living room, or look up after waking himself from nap-time by almost rolling off the sofa. We enjoy each other's company, occasionally taking a moment for some quality cuddles and cat-talk. 

He may not communicate in the same language but I like to think the acknowledgement, whatever it may sound like to him, means something. The tone of the voice, the feeling of having company, whatever it may be that causes a positive response in him and means that when we go too long without it I notice a clear change in behaviour. 

Back to the point though. He looked at me and I felt a pang of guilt and ache at the thought of leaving him again, all in favour of long days at the office, hours at someone else's desk far away from home, bustling back for a late dinner and dashing out after a quick breakfast. He would be left all on his lonesome. 

Now, don't worry, I have enough friends who are happy to slap sense into me over these thoughts. I appreciate my kitty is more than capable of (and may even enjoy) fending for himself during the days of quiet (with a balanced amount of cuddles when possible). But then I have to wonder; if I feel this way about him now how would I approach one day potentially leaving a child behind for the office? 

Obviously until that day arrives I doubt anyone could imagine what it will feel like. However, that moment further emphasised the importance of 'doing what you love and loving what you do.' If  you're going to attempt a balanced lifestyle you can't spend 40+ hours a week doing a job you don't enjoy. You need something that gets your heart racing, that motivates you to get up Monday morning and feel excited.

It can mean something different for everyone, and there's no wrong answer. 

Whether it's a big corporate world that gets your adrenaline pumping or you crave the more intimate setting of a small business. Perhaps you want a mid-career swap because you've have enough and need a new challenge, or you want to try and stay with the current routine as long as possible. Maybe you're even looking to start your own business to make a go of your dreams or perhaps you prefer getting passionate about projects but letting someone else deal with the stress and headache of running the place. Or maybe you want to be running a home, be a stay at home mom or dad. 

Whatever the answer, as long as you're doing something that gets you excited and makes getting up  equally easy whether it's a Monday or Saturday morning you've got a big part of it figured out. Of course some days will always be tougher whilst others are better than great. That's life. But if you feel excited to keep going that's a feat we should all be striving towards. 

Of course it isn't that easy. It may be the most obvious thing in the world, go find a job you love, but in the real-world that's easier said than done. 

Job hunting is tough. Watching that savings account balance go down is mentally exhausting. Finding the courage to say 'no' when the wrong opportunities for pay-cheques arise is beyond difficult, even if know deep down  it's the right choice. You have bills, obligations, a life to live, why not just take the easy option while you're looking for the right fit? Stability while you continue to search. 

And what about once you are back in the full-time world. No more flexibility, freelance hours, guaranteed control. How do you ensure you tailor your role in a way that keeps you continuously happy and motivated. 

It's a mine-field out there, trying to juggle responsibility and happiness, balance work and a personal life, all while ensuring you remain true to yourself. 

Finding work in itself in this state of affairs is hard enough. Being picky sounds like a luxury most can't afford. But taking a minute to figure out your 'list', your wants and definitely-not's, doesn't have to mean drastic changes or unpaid bills. Take your time, do it at your own pace with whatever steps  that feel comfortable right now. But do it. Because in the long-run misery eight hours a day will not only drain you of energy and passion (sit down on the central line between 18:00-20:00 to view prime examples of 'stress and exhaustion') for when you do get those precious moments of private time but it will not be beneficial to whoever is employing you either. Happiness at work = effective work force = winning all around. 

This responsibility, therefore, should of course fall on both sides, employee and employer. 

We should all strive to create a safe and positive work space with happy and motivated colleagues. Clocking longer hours or higher stress levels doesn't mean you're adding value or, necessarily, working any harder. Productivity and passion for your job/surroundings, and striving for living the life you love, go hand in hand much more than your time table. Once again in the real world that isn't always so easy. That's why the one thing you can control is your own choice, your own actions. Figure out what makes you happy and make a plan. It may not mean instant gratification, after all there is no such thing as an overnight success, but in the long run isn't the goal of it all to find some kind of happy balanced medium? Find a pace that's comfortable to start whatever change you need to find that happy place (or carry on what you're doing if you're already (getting) there, lucky sod), try to give yourself time to look for a job that inspires you, that teaches you new things, that challenges you and keeps you on your toes.

Back to the cat then. At the time of writing I'm actually headed to someone else's office for the day. The cat is absolutely fine, and so is my 'plan'. Am fortunate enough to now have been able to continue working around inspiring people while diving into projects I can believe in, all while challenging myself in new ways and pushing some boundaries. 

It doesn't mean it's always easy, focusing on the project at hand and pushing yourself to continue delivering real value while elbowing your way through commuters who sometimes appear quite convinced that rugby-tackling short people away from the tube-doors is perfectly acceptable during rush-hour. It makes it hard not to miss sitting at home with a cuppa, laptop and a purring cat. Equally, I have to admit that if I'm not sat there challenging myself to reach for the stars and feel passionate about whatever project is exciting/right/inspiring right now. One day I will reach a place where I can control where and how and what I'm devoting my time to even more/fully, and that will be really exciting. But even then there will be new goals to strive for, that's just life.

loving what you do in a positive environment = far higher productivity and strong results 


No comments:

Post a Comment