This may come across as a little bit of a controversial post but it’s something I’m passionate about so just hear me out…
It is known that unless you’re incredibly wealthy, all of us have to work in order to earn money and maintain a standard of living. As we get older, we gain more and more responsibilities. We develop money-saving skills (well most of us!) and understand the importance of a job especially if we wish to live in a comfortable home and provide for our families. It is honourable to work and admirable to save but what happens when work is no longer a means to an end but your very existence?
I work at a Business School that runs high-level leadership programs advocating the necessity of maintaining a work/life balance. While it is expected of all of us to do our jobs and do them to the best of our ability, that is as far as it should go. Unless you have a meeting or an urgent deadline, when 5:00pm comes around, switch the computer off and go home. Be with your loved ones. Forget about the day you just had. Keep the two separate. It makes me sad to see colleagues staying back after hours, not sleeping because of their work-load and living, breathing their careers while their personal lives are not nurtured.
I like to believe I’m a hard worker and never shirk my responsibilities but I was taught at a young age that work is work and at the end of the day, life is short and we need to focus on the people that really matter…most of all ourselves! When work begins to impact our health, it’s time to assess and adjust the way we work. Do you spend all day at a computer? I do! I have an office job but that doesn’t mean I don’t get up every half an hour, walk up and down the stairs and spend time outside on my lunch break. As a yoga instructor, I’m aware of the skeletal and muscular implications that occur from being sedentary for long periods of time. It’s important to move around and keep the joints lubricated. I hardly ever eat lunch at my desk. I crave my brisk walks and being surrounded by nature when 12:00pm hits. When my fiancé and I come home from a long day at the office, our attention is purely on each other. We rarely discuss work and just enjoy spending time together, talking about anything and everything else.
When I say this post may be controversial, I mean that others may feel like they don’t have those options. They may have incredibly demanding roles and not a lot of free time. This could very well be the case and kudos to those hard-working individuals but do ask yourself these questions. Does your job impact your health in any way? Do you spend quality time with your family in the evenings and weekends? When you’re not at work, where is your mind? Are you taking the leave you’re entitled to?
I was shocked to learn in some of my previous roles that some staff never took their leave until they were forced to by the HR Department. When they finally did go on a week holiday with their family, they would take their work phones with them and check their e-mails. Personally, I found this incredibly sad. I couldn’t imagine being in a beautiful, foreign country with my beloved family and focusing on office life. Not only were they depriving themselves of a much-needed break but inadvertently showing their partner and children that they were not important. It baffled my mind! I’ve been working at the Business School for over 3 years and every single year Francis and I go on long holidays with small getaways in between. We make time for travel and nothing supersedes our quality time together.
So here are some tips:
- See work for what it really is – a place you go everyday for a set number of hours in order to support yourself and your family. It’s all about attitude and perception. If you invest all of yourself into your job, you will find your mind is always there even on weekends and time off.
- Prioritise your workload so the really important tasks are done at the start of the day. Once you get them out of the way, you will feel much better about leaving at 5pm.
- DO NOT take your work phone & laptop with you on holidays or weekends. Your time is your time. Separate the two!
- Have passions, hobbies and goals that have no relevance to your work. Every morning I practice Vinyasa Yoga at 6am before I hop in my car. I still blog once a week, read/go for walks on my lunch breaks and work on my book in my down time.
- When you get home from a long day in the office, do not talk about work unless it is therapeutic or helpful for your mental health. Go for a walk, cook dinner and enjoy your time to relax with your loved ones.
- Keep active! Take breaks when you need to. Nobody can tell you off for going to the bathroom so walk to the one furthest from your office and lubricate your joints!
- Have things to look forward to! Travel, travel, travel! Even if it’s only a weekend away. On Boxing Day, it’s Francis’s 30th birthday and as we have nearly two weeks off, I have a special surprise planned (stay tuned). In January, Mum and I will be spending 10 days in Taiwan with my sister so there is much to be excited about!
- Do not eat lunch at your desk. Even if it’s miserable outside go and read somewhere. We are all entitled to lunch breaks so use them!
Our careers are not our lives. Success is not measured by the amount of money you make or your position title. If you’re going to work like a dog, make sure you reap the rewards. See the world, give your family your love and attention and most of all look after your mind, body and soul.
When I’m old and grey, am I going to remember those fond memories of business meetings and admin work or am I going to reflect on the places I travelled to, the love I expressed and the memories I shared with those around me? Don’t be a ‘too late’ person. Work to fund the life you have outside of the office. Be present, strive to maintain a balance and see the bigger picture.
Peace & Love xoxox