The phrase ‘Work Life Balance’ has been banded around since the 1980’s. Then the Yuppie generation armed with brick sized mobile telephones and Filofaxes worked until they dropped, stood up and worked some more. It was a time of overbearing pressure all in the name of money. ‘Work hard and you can buy your time back’ was a phrase I once heard at a speaking conference from a sharp suited, tanned and trained presenter. I’ve heard some ridiculous things in my time, but this must take the prize. The inference was to make a fortune by 40 and then retire, no doubt with an ulcer or two and a heart problem. The moment we become able to buy time as a commodity, is the time we should stop the world and get off…
People complain endlessly about time and the lack of it, yet we’ve never worked less hours, nor had the amount of mechanical and digital help in history (in the 1950’s, my father worked a 50 hour, five and a half day week in the steel industry and that was the norm). What we’ve done is fill our time with worthless demands and distractions. We’ve abandoned natures clock for our one attached to our wrist, joined the massed ranks of others and walked their paths, rather than follow our own.
Age certainly changes perspective. When I was young I worked hard, including 24 hr standby and loved every minute. Many of my generation were told by our parents to get a good job, a good pension, have a family and settle down. They were passing on their social expectations as their parents did to them. It’s taken me a long time to let go of others expectations, but I’ve always been bad at seeing the bleeding obvious.
Continuing nerve pain in my arms made a decision that I should have taken long ago, a great deal easier. My previous blog about ‘The Return of the Phantom Menace’ was where this story began and I needed to seriously consider what was happening to me. Medical help seemed to waiver and I was bounced between units at hospital for over a year with little in the way of answers. Though medicine can help, we need to recognise the fact that we are a living, breathing and spiritual being. Tablets are not the answer to life’s problems, although they can help at times. Sometimes we need to look inside a little more and regain control of our bodies and breathe.
Work was a huge issue in aggravating my nerve pain and though help was given in the regard to desks and keyboards, something had to budge. I was extremely fortunate to have a good friend who wanted to share the load with me and half both of our working hours. I have to admit, I’m very lucky to have this opportunity. Not everyone has a job in which they can easily share, nor can they afford to live on half their wage, but as my Grandmother used to say ‘Shrouds don’t have pockets’. We should live to our means and not waste time and money on the things that we really don’t need. It took months of exhausting negotiation, but since June this year, I’ve been able to spend more of my precious time relaxing, thinking and prioritising my life.
Perspective plays a big part in our impression of workload and time. People constantly assume that I’m never in the country, yet I spend over 80% of my time here. Others assume that I rush everywhere, because they never see me sat down. What one person feels is too much, is to another acceptable. People still say that I work too hard, but some people also complain of boredom.
There is a danger in halving my working hours, and that is filling my time with distractions that I don’t need. I’ve lost count on the number of retired people who say “now that I’ve retired, I’ve got so much on that I can’t understand how I ever had time to work..!” People think that once you have time, you’ll be eager to take on more charity work, run clubs or get involved in their little schemes. Thankfully I’ve been able to slow my pace down and let go of some of the commitments that I don’t need. I’m also spending more quality time supporting my family, which is incredibly important to me.
Peaceful time outdoors is something that I crave. Time off midweek is allowing me to enjoy the countryside with little traffic and few distractions.
Perhaps this sounds like the world of a dreamer, but dreaming is fine by me…
Watching the clouds go by is fine by me…
Feeling the wind in my face is fine by me…
Rather than looking from the outside in, look from the inside out.
Are you living the life you wish..?
Are you surrounding yourself and your family with money and commodity, or supporting them with time and love..?
Are you living your life through the eyes of others, or through your own..?
Are you tied down by commitments you don’t need or want..?
I’m not here to tell people what to do, nor how to live their lives. I’m not a preacher or a prophet. I’m here to live my life in the best way I’m able. To be the best me that I can be.
Isn’t that enough..?