Neha was yelling at Sameer “you very well understand the work situation at my office. How can you even expect me to join you all for your aunt’s 75th birthday celebration tomorrow evening. Do you have to be so insensitive?”
I have personally been a victim of and suffered long due to this personal – professional conflict or divide . Work was perhaps the only thing on my mind till just about 6-7 years ago in my career. Work as hard and as much as I possibly could in the shortest time frame. Everything else was waiting while I continued to double up my efforts. Obviously a whole lot was neglected. Fun times with Ruchi and Samarth, relationship connects with the extended family, spending moments with long time friends, some hobbies I always wanted to cultivate……..the list is long and, in retrospect, painful.
The passing away of my mother then acted as a cruel turning point. To this day I have always held myself guilty of not having spent enough time with her during the last phase of her life. And that led to a most wonderful revelation – work never gets over, it simply changes in shape and size and we are always expected to do more all the time. Also that the only person who can inject a sense of balance in my life is ME. So buddy, stop looking for divine intervention and make a difference yourself!
I am going to make a few simple suggestions aimed at ensuring you get a hold of your life :
1. Figure out what really matters to You in life – getting your priorities clear is the first and most essential step toward achieving a well-balanced life. A good question to answer is – if there is one thing and one thing only that you can focus on, what would that be? What would be a second such thing? And so on. If you answer thoughtfully and honestly, the result will be a list of your top few priorities. This list might include your children, spouse, satisfying career, a hobby, health, community service etc. The key is devoting your full attention to just one priority at any moment.
2. Drop unnecessary activities – time is never enough and therefore it is important that we manage it efficiently. So while you focus on your priorities, it is equally essential to drop any commitments or pursuits that don’t make your list – they are taking time away from the things that matter to you. Determining what you will stop doing is a corollary to creating the priority list itself.
3. Protect your private time – carve out hours that contribute to yourself and your relationships, guard this personal time fervently and don’t let work or other distractions intrude. You probably think many times before skipping out on work or missing a parent-teacher meet or a doctor’s appointment. Similarly if you honour the different aspects of your life such as work, play and family, you are bound to be more fulfilled in each area. Our private time deserves greater respect than we usually accord to it.
4. Spend time with your children – kids grow up amazingly fast and very soon they hardly need you. So if you do not create a unique bond with them during the formative years, chances are you will lose them. That is an unmitagated tragedy in more ways than one. I look to my son to remind me of how to be open-minded, excited and curious about life … key ingredients for innovative, breakthrough thinking. If you don’t spend time with them now, this opportunity will be lost forever.
5. Take a vacation – Fun and relaxation are an essential part of living a well-balanced life. The time you spend with yourself and your loved ones on a fun trip has such a wonderful way of re-charging you. It re-establishes bonds, provides lasting memories. You always light up while speaking of them – for years on. For me, vacation time also provides the mindspace to reassess my overall state – personal or professional. I have been taking a vacation every year since my mother’s death, making up for lost time you may say!
There are so many ways by which you can create a better balance in your life. I have often heard people say – there is too much work and it is not permitting me to do much else. Now that statement cannot be farther from reality. The truth being that you will always make time for something you believe is important, you feel good about and that makes you happy. That responsibility lies fairly and squarely with you.
You are in charge of your own schedule. Go discover life beyond work.
Neha – never again will there be a 75th birthday in the life of your aunt – don’t miss it for anything!