My career is really important to me, but there have to be other great, important things in your life besides work. - Katherine Heigl
Every day is a result of our choices and responsibility taken for that. Our life consists of these days with new challenges thrown to accept and accomplish. Everyone is familiar with a conflict of balancing career and family. When we’re young we strive for achievements, self development, new high victories and we throw ourselves as a frisbee so far to do whatever it takes to earn respect, approval of other great achievers and high social status to “secure” our future. And it’s perfectly fine to want all of those things as long as achieving them makes you happy.
A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night. – Marilyn Monroe
Achievements are very important for self esteem and self-respect. It’s always been and will always be this way. But that period often switches places to the period when you start wanting more warm and cozy things like a loving family, home, kids and all that laughter and happy pictures you might be imagining in you mind every once in a while. That can be crossroads of choices to take. Someone keeps on going striving for the best achievements pressing their need for family down and trying to ignore it. But others just decide to put their career on hold and create a real family with kids.
Investment Banker not Always Invests in His Future
Her name is Natalie. Not so long ago she was a daring, risk taking, highly successful woman madly in love with her work. She was a shark always in check with what she wants and how to get it. Business trips, meetings, office outfits and high heels – all was precisely dedicated to achieve more and more in her career. She was never home and she practically lived in the office. But then something suddenly turned her well organised life upside down, when she found out that she was pregnant. Her whole world was in a danger of extinction. She got scared. Her loving husband Daniel was a supporting and loving person. He always stayed positive and optimistic about everything. So he talked her into taking yet another career. The career of being a mother. So she did.
As much as Natalie was obsessed with her work she got obsessed with her newborn son. She took a really good care of him. She strived to give him the best of everything he might have needed. So her elegant office outfits were changed to stained pijamas. Her luscious blonde hair once glowing with brilliance turned into something messy, undefined and dull. Her face and all body was tired and I hated to see her this way. She wasn’t happy at all. That’s what she admitted. She forgot herself. She lost her identity somewhere buried under nappies, bedtime stories and a simple desire to sleep. As she said she took her son as another “project” to be obsessed about forgetting all her needs and needs of her beloved husband who in fact was miserable too because he was never getting enough of Natalie’s affection not when she was working and not once the baby arrived.
“I might have been an investor working for a bank knowing exactly what I was doing, but I’m sure as heck I have no idea how to find balance and invest myself properly in the future right now” – said Natalie while sipping coffee and taking our usual walk at the Greenwich park in London.
“Daniel thinks of leaving me. He said he doesn’t see us as a family because I have never been able to give him enough attention. Even when he comes home we never spend time together or do anything together. He feels abandoned and doesn’t see me as attractive as I was before which was what kept him from leaving me when I was working non-stop. Sure, I love my boys and I want them both to be happy with me. But I cannot figure out how to share myself between them both equally?” – Natalie continued.
Spend Life Creating More Happy Memories
“My father used to be a very busy man. He hardly ever had a minute to spend with us as a family. Although I understand now as adult how tough it can be to survive and prosper in this world, but at the same time our relationship suffered greatly. He used to buy me and my sister expensive gifts and we used to spend a lot of time at high-profile expensive camps. But all I wanted was for my father to be around more. I never cared for those toys. I just wanted him to pat my shoulder when hard times came and have more moments with him spent fishing like we did once when I was a kid. But now, when he vanished from my life it really made me wonder how fragile our life is… How poorly we often spend time on arguing, pointless late nights at work missing big games of our children… when in fact – family is the only thing that matters… I though a lot about necessity of a family to be close, supporting and loving. To see each other more often and create more activities together wich in fact will turn into kaleidoscope of worthwhile memories.” – John Burke, 29
Finding Balance Between Work and Family
Although many of us can be confused or even lost trying to figure out simple ways to find a common ground between family and work – I’m sure we can figure it out together somehow. I have some tools and advice in mind and I will share it here with you.
We are all busy. We are. But we have to at least try to make an effort to be connected as a family and have some quality time together more often. Every day. I’m not talking about watching a TV show together because it’s not exactly a proper way to be connected. Talk about what’s going on in your daily life. Share things that make you happy. If you don’t know yet, ask each other for help to figure out how to change things around. Share what’s on your mind.
Every weekend me and my better half go away from the city. It’s a tradition. We pick one day of the weekend and go somewhere to change the scenery, breath fresh oceanic air and recharge batteries while connecting with nature. Well, some of you might think, sure, Lesya… you live in the UK where unwelcoming weather is always a “party crasher”, so how would you keep your tradition going?! The answer is simple: you can never put your life and wellbeing on hold just because of the weather that might not suit your taste. There is no bad whether, there is only poor choice in clothing you’re wearing. But this can be easily solved. The main point is – do more fun things and activities together. What you do now soon will become your loving memory. Do some more fun things to remember!
Your Work Lives at Work
Make a habit leaving your work at work. You don’t need all that daily stress transferred beyond your door steps. Concentrate on things that you can control. Concentrate on your calm harbour that you are coming back to after a hard and stormy day. Be at peace at home. Share your time with your loved ones by speaking and discovering something common and new. When you are at work, write everything down. All tasks, all notes of the meetings. File your emails, use some sort of system. When you write something down – it is out of your head and it will help you to leave that stuff at work on the piece of paper and outside of your home. Your time at work is dedicated to your work but your time at home is all about your family. That balance will not only make you closer to your family but it will also improve your productivity at work.
Remember Yourself. Remember Each Other.
Remember your identity and all of those little things that make you tick. Remember about your other half and give him/her extra affection. There is no need for waiting for the right moment to do some grand gesture to make them happy. Little things matter more than any big and expensive present. More often little romantic things are remembered for longer than an outing to the best restaurant in town. It’s about staying close and discovering affection and love together by taking little steps. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just to kiss my other half which sets him out for a day of great mood knowing that he is loved and cared about. You can never replace this with anything material. Love each other, hug each other, show your affection in everything you do, because this is how you really balance your career and family.
By Lesya Li
Photo by Bill Frymire