Since I became self-employed and since Elmine’s birthday un-conference on work/life balance a couple of years ago, I have had the notion that I don’t really have a work/life balance and I don’t really want it.
I want to have a life and my work is a part of it. This morning (what seems like the 100th time this year) my daughter got sick again. I had to cancel my morning gym class, had to cancel meetings and take care of her. Normally I can get quite irritated because I have a schedule and plans for the day, and they all go straight up in the air because of a sick little girl. Today I felt different about it. Taking care of my kid is a part of my life. Napping with her while she’s feverish is something I am really happy to do. Singing for her and nursing her is something that is a huge part of me.
I feel truly blessed that I don’t have a boss that I need to call up and tell that I can’t work today because she’s sick. I’ll just schedule around it, or maybe work some during the weekend.
I’ve had a boss who was an ego-centric psycho. Seriously he was. Every time my daughter was sick (which is quite a lot when she’s little) he would get me in the office and talk about my carrier. When he did it twice a week I decided that I needed to do something else, because this wasn’t the way I wanted to do things.
He interfered with my LIFE, and the structure around my work made it impossible for me to be happy about my work. It seemed so separated from the rest of my life. There wasn’t really a passion, There wasn’t really anything that was really fun. It was work. It wasn’t something I did out of my own initiative it wasn’t something I created, it was something that needed to be done, because other people said so. So I worked. I worked so hard that there wasn’t anyone that could put a finger on anything and say “that wasn’t good enough, this needs to be better”. I excelled at it.
But it didn’t feel like a part of my life. They wouldn’t let it be a part of my life because life kept interfering with my work. I mean I EVEN told them considered having a second child – that was just really bad for productivity in the company.
But I think that’s my personal key to happiness at work. It has to be a part of my life process – if you can’t manage to make it so; I’m not happy and I will do something else. So I did. My happiness lies in the now and knowing that in 10 mins when my daughter wakes up feverish, I can take care of it because I don’t have client work that can’t be postponed. I can sit and watch cartoons all day with her and be at ease with it. It’s not a big thing on a larger scale, it really isn’t.
I guess my point is, that happiness at work for me lies in being able to be at ease when life interferes. So If I were a boss I would facilitate that. I’m pretty sure I would have happy employees, and I hope they’d appreciate that notion in me because bosses like that rarely happen.