How do we “balance” work hours, career advancement, family and relationship needs? This seems to be a perennial topic of discussion. We want it all. Despite our technology, things don’t seem to be getting any better on the time management front. Now, instead of one partner trying to balance demanding activities, we have both partners in a family struggling with time management.
And here’s the confession: I’ve never really had a problem with balancing work and life demands. I believe this attitude, one of not feeling out of balance, is due to the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to always enjoy my work. As a result of loving my work, I can count on just two hands the number of days I’ve wished I could stay home; and that’s out of more than 32 years in the semiconductor industry at four different companies. Those “bad days” were either because I had to discipline one of my employees or because I had “messed up” and expected to be in trouble myself. In short, the only days I didn’t want to go to work were the days when there were personnel issues.
I’m convinced that if we are doing the work we love, then there is no such thing as imbalance between work and lifestyle from our own point of view. Now that’s not to say that we shouldn’t be aware of and perhaps adjust the time spent between career work and time needed to attend to important personal relationships. There can be too much of a good thing. And that’s also not to say we won’t feel some pressure to prioritize a bit differently than we want to. What I am saying is that we won’t feel the need to escape to some exotic retreat to regain our energy. Work is not a burden when you love what you are doing.
I don’t want my comments to be misunderstood. I’m pretty sure my family would say that I spent too much time working and that I didn’t get the priorities right much of the time. Also, I do believe in vacations, sharing parenting and home responsibilities – I’m sure I didn’t get that time allotment totally right either. Still, I don’t see the problem with not wanting to leave for vacation because work is exciting, interesting and challenging. Once on vacation though, it’s time to wind down and be fully present for loved ones.
So in my mind, this “life-style” versus “work focus” balance thing is more of an issue of being fully present in the moment than forcing an arbitrary segmentation. It’s about making sure we don’t overdo a good thing. When at work, be fully present to work. When at home, be fully present to home and family. When at play, be fully present to play.
I’m still at it today. I have no intention to retire in the normal sense of that word. I hope to continue working until I can no longer physically and/or mentally do so. I love what I do and can’t imagine not contributing to the business world in some meaningful way. For me retirement is doing what I want, when I want and with whom I want. I guess I’m retired! How about you? Will you retire to the rocking chair? The golf course? The tennis court? Or will you keep on working at what you love?