Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Signing Off for Summer

When I was in the job market for attorney positions, I found a lot of law firms boasting about their work life balance.  Sensing a rising demand from potential applicants, many firms included this catch phrase in an effort to offer more attractive benefits.  Yet, despite how prevalent the phrase has become, I've never seen a firm that actually blew me away with their interpretation of it.  Most firms are still reluctant to offer reduced, part time, or telecommuting schedules.  Working only 40 hours a week in the legal field, especially in the private sector, seems to be the cream of the crop in terms of work life balance.  I don't think this is necessarily limited to the legal field, either.

What I always found interesting about this though, is the thought of trying to balance our work with the rest of the things that comprise our lives when the standard work week consists of 5 days of work and 2 days of everything else.  How do you fit everything that you need into those remaining 2 days?  Basic chores like laundry, grocery shopping, and paying the bills take up a big enough chunk of time out of those 2 days, let alone bigger home maintenance projects.  Add in enough time to exercise, socialize, sleep, and take care of young children or elderly parents, and there's hardly a minute of just plain down time.  Time to actually decompress, daydream, or do nothing at all.  It just doesn't balance.

When else in your life have you ever seen 5 and 2 balance?  We know that if you put 5 apples on one side of a balancing scale and 2 apples on the other, they just won't balance.  At least if the apples are the same size and quality.

(c) Amber Byers

But we somehow accept this lopsidedness when it comes to our own lives.  We accept that 40 hours a week is a great deal.  Then, to make everything else fit into those 2 days a week, we sacrifice.  Maybe we don't sleep or exercise as much as we should.  Maybe we lose touch with friends.  Maybe we lose sight of our own needs and what we need to do to maintain our own health and happiness.

Yet I firmly believe that this path is not worth taking.  At least for me, and a lot of other people like me.  I know that there are those people out there who live and breathe the work they do and have many fewer interests on the side.  And that's fine for them.  But for the rest of us who have a lot of competing demands on our time, trying to juggle this incessantly unbalanced scale is exhausting.  It didn't make me a happier or healthier person, or someone who was able to live by my own values.

So that is why I am writing to let you know that I am taking the summer off.  Not from everything, but from as many things as I can.  I won't be posting my semi-regular blog posts.  I won't be attending my weekly writer's group, though I still hope to stay in touch with them.  I am still working out the details of my own work.  At this time, I still plan to accept clients through my editing business, as there is the necessity of paying the bills and that time commitment is still quite small.  And I will be working with my illustrator to finalize the cover art for my book.  As for the rest of my time, will I finish writing my book and get started editing?  If I do, I will do it on random days or evenings as I have time, hopefully without the relentless pressure of needing to accomplish something that usually hovers over me.

And in the meantime, I'll be out there experiencing all of the other things that didn't fit into those 2 days in the past.  Doing what I love - being in the great outdoors during my favorite time of year.  Growing, learning, and restoring my own balance.  So that I can not only come back in the fall with renewed energy and excitement for all of my projects, but also so that I take a moment in the middle of some of the best years of my life to appreciate why it is that this life on this earth is such a joy to live in the first place.

#WorkLifeBalance  #Summertime  #LivingALifeImagined

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