I have been wondering lately whether real, long lasting balance is something confined to only a few unique job roles, or whether our culture is so caught up in “busy boasting” and the idea that running ourselves into the ground is the only way to strive up the ladder… that we don’t stop to consider there might be a better way?
I was having a conversation with a colleague in the office yesterday. She looked worn out and over it, and when I inquired as to her recent vacation, she said it had been cancelled due to urgent issues at work. She said she had been up until midnight for weeks and was sick of not spending the time she wanted with her family. She had done no exercise and knew she was eating badly but didn’t have the time to cook meals. Not surprisingly, she wants to quit… no wonder she looked like she needed to curl up under a doona for a week.
Contrast that to my own experience. I’ve just had a lovely relaxing break with my family. My workload seems to have slowed a little. I’ve come back into the office feeling somewhat refreshed. I did my exercise at home this morning before I dropped the kids at vacation care. I arrived at the office and got my 80’s hits pumping on the headphones while I ploughed through the emails and dealt with the “crisis” that happened while I was away. I spent my lunch break sitting on the work deck, the sun shining, a cup of tea in my hand while I read through some documents. I was home at a reasonable hour, had dinner with my family and then played a board game with the kids (actually…that is not entirely true, I planned to play a board game with the kids but then they had a big argument about who was going to be the “banker”, which resulted in them being sent to their rooms…point is, I COULD have played a board game with the kids).
Now, not every day is like that but I try. Which leaves me with the ongoing anxiety that maybe I am missing something, that perhaps I have forgotten to do something important… that maybe I won’t be promoted if I haven’t been slaving away until the midnight hours. After all, me and my colleague work for the same company, at the same level… so that is what is expected of me, right?
Or, perhaps I just have the only job that doesn’t demand the same thing from me?
If I’m not careful, that anxiety keeps me in my box. It makes me worry about stepping into new challenges and projects . It makes me not look for new opportunities. Because what if, I have the pink unicorn job that allows me to truly have a leadership role and spend time with my family…and I mess it up?
Then I wonder…is it just the role… or is it also partially about the way I personally approach the role? After all, I have been exploring the whole idea of work and life balance for the last couple of years. I have my 10 steps to work life awesomeness, which I revisit regularly (because I regularly slip up…I am human after all). Maybe, just maybe, these things really are helping me to keep perspective? To prioritise the important things and let go of the rest. Maybe not everyone is approaching their work the same way? Even as I type this I can feel the anxiety rising, the panic…if I say these things out loud, is the rug about to be ripped out from under me? Tomorrow will I be under a pile of work rubble, not able to clamber my way out?
I don’t know.
I’m guessing ultimately it might be a mixture of the right role AND the right approach. But I did promise that this year was going to be about Adventure and Curosity…right? Maybe my challenge is to see if I can extend the work life balance I have achieved, into new projects and opportunities. To put my hand up and then test what I have learnt?