Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
I realized yesterday that the Are vs. Should Problem really started in Episode 42: Safety. I knew the idea had been rolling around in my head, but I didn’t realize I actually stated it formally in that podcast. So, really, the Are vs. Should Problem officially begin in Episode 42.
So it’s kind of like I was unloading ideas in Episodes 1-41, then made a sort of shift toward organizing the ideas in Episodes 42-49, then realized what I was doing by Episode 50. Not to say any of the Episodes were more or less important, just noting a definite trend.
So in THIS Episode examining the time we spend pursuing our careers vs. the time we spend loving each other, I was really getting to the meat of the Are vs Should issue. And that is, what do we value and how do we measure success?
What do we value?
And how do we measure success?
This Episode gets at the ARE and the SHOULD as terms we use to measure how well we are living our lives. And it’s confusing because so many people, and so much of the system, measures success in money, power, and accolades. Yet so much of what we NEED, and so much of what we are MISSING, is measured in love, and smiles, and calm.
We only get so much time on Earth, and it seems to be the most limiting resource there is – except when it doesn’t. At times we’re bored and can’t wait to ‘get there’ or for ‘this to be over’ (I’m talking to you, COVID). And other times we just can’t get enough time in the day to do the things we want and need to do.
Work, career, a J. O. B. These things take out HUGE chunks of this limited time, and often fall into the ‘get this over with’ category. The lucky ones love their jobs and benefit from the appearance of having more time, since they enjoy the 40+ hours spent earning a living.
Usually, we don’t have enough time for the things that bring us joy. And that’s a shame. It’s like it’s backwards. We spend MORE time working and LESS time living.
This episode is an attempt to help us figure out how to make sure our lives our balanced in a way that lets us live a little while we spin around the sun.
I was just talking with my good friend, Paul Gadola, who you may know from KEW Curiosity Interview Series 1, about kids. He and his wife have chosen not to have any and are very happy they don’t, whereas I have four kids. It’s usually difficult for me to relate to non-parents to at least some degree, but with Paul it is not hard at all.
The differences reflect life choices, but a foundation of empathy connects us.
The point I want to make is that this episode is not just for people that have kids. It is valuable to understand all points of view in order to feel more connected to each other.
Parenting is the toughest job I have ever had. But that may just be me. After being a stay-at-home parent for several years, and generally speaking the primary caregiver for nearly 20 years, I now look at having a job as having a hobby that pays you money.
Now, some jobs SUCK hard, and that’s a little different. But many people enjoy their work, just like many people really love parenting.
But parenting is harder, again, in my opinion. It has more challenges and fewer rewards. And even though you may find it difficult to talk to your demanding and angry boss, at least he or she can communicate using grown up words.
The point of this episode wasn’t to knock parenting, or not having kids, or any of it. Rather, it is my attempt to balance the playing field so that we all understand one another, and can, like Paul and myself, be more understanding and empathetic to decisions we make.
And maybe that’s a model for everyone to consider about all issues.
Interestingly, and out of pure coincidence, I just did a guest interview on the Impactful Parent Podcast:
In Episode 32: Work/Life Balance I shared my thoughts about how to find time to meet all the various needs we have. In this episode I want to focus specifically on balancing time spent working toward our careers with time spent with our families. And for those of you without spouses or kids, your family can be your parents, siblings, friends, coworkers or any other people you value and spend time with.
The main career/family issue I see in nearly all of the Americans I know is the stress associated with spending too much time ‘working’ and not enough time with ‘family’. Now these categories are pretty broad and can be broken down into the values associated with each. ‘Career’ generally means earning enough money to ‘be happy’ or to pay our bills, not have to worry about having food on the table, and making sure all family members have most of what they need within reason. The ‘Family’ category usually means being able to spend time with loved ones so that we don’t miss out on important moments (first steps, birthdays, sunsets) nor feel guilty about missing these moments. So work is really full of other values like safety, protection, health, wealth, and feeling valued. Similar, family is comprised of things like love, safety, comfort, and joy.
I think the problem arises from two basic issues: 1) work, or career, demands too much of our time, and 2) we feel guilty, sad, or devalued when we feel like we don’t have enough time for love. I have talked at length about both of these issues in other episodes, but in short the American career ideal does, indeed, demand too much of our time which I think is most of the problem. Couple that with the idea that, the higher your salary the higher the expectations of time dedicated to work then we have a huge problem for those earning a comfortable living. The wealthier you are, the more likely that the working member of the household will miss out on family time.
The good news is, by identifying your values – especially those associated with career and family – you can identify mechanisms for adjustment. Something as simple as reexamining your budget can reveal how much money your family really needs to be content. And maybe you don’t need to earn $200k a year and work 70 hours a week. Maybe changing careers is a viable solution.Similarly, maybe your spouse feels unsafe without a large retirement savings. Maybe you agree to work as hard as possible for a few years and THEN make a change.
The hardest thing to change with respect to all of these values (money, safety, time spent with family, love, etc.) is your job. Your employer will almost always dictate how much time you will spend working both in the office and at home on your phone or computer. This is hard to change because you could lose your job. BUT, you could become an entrepreneur and work for yourself (although sometimes this is worse with respect to time). You could change careers. You could split time with your spouse and both work part time, though sometimes insurance is difficult in this situation. The point is, your employer will largely dictate your work situation, though there is some flexibility if you are willing to take risks.
The rest of the values can be manipulated. If you work too much and are missing family time, you can develop and schedule time to spend together and make this a CRITICAL secondary priority. You can learn to accept your career time commitments and ‘work with what you have’. You can thoroughly examine the time you spend working at home and think about creative ways to minimize this. Do you really need to answer emails at 9 PM? Can some things wait until the morning or office time?
I don’t think we spend enough time micro-managing our time and looking at the small ways to shift career time to family time. We believe we are helpless victims of our employers. I believe career constraints can be boiled down to a list of absolutes, maybes, and potential nos. This processes can free up small bits of time that add up to being able to have lunch with your spouse once a week to check in, to take your kids to school, or other opportunities. We just forget we have more control than we think.
I hope this episode reminds you of the power you have to control your time and to find small ways to improve your career/family balance. Please share your ideas below.
Many of us struggle with the amount of time we spend working on our career vs. time we spend with our family. For those pursuing demanding careers we fear we are missing out at home, and some of us who spend most of our time at home long to have a purpose beyond our families. Whether are assumptions are accurate, or our guilt is warranted remains largely unseen because career demands seem to trump our other needs (see Episode 32 Work/Life Balance for more general information about this topic). Regardless, MANY of us wish we could spend less time at work to free up more time to spend with the people that we love. And NOT being able to do this creates a lot of stress.
Careers are extremely demanding, and it seems like the higher the salary, the higher the demands on our time. We believe we have to earn these high salaries to provide for our families and many of us have the best intentions when choosing to work more than we’d like. But we question whether it is all ‘worth it’ in the end. As we age the value of all the work and all the money often comes into question and we miss more and more life events in the pursuit of wealth.
But what do we do? How do we ‘balance’ career/money with family/happiness?
This week I ponder that specific subset of the work/life balance question.
After WWII Americans made some major advances in the pursuit of happiness. The 40-hour workweek. Worker protections via unions. Inexpensive plastic goods and TVs in every room. We purchased homes, went to college, and earned pensions for healthy retirements. We had picket fences, 2.3 kids, and stayed married (but not always happily). Our grandparents passed these ideals on to their children, and to each successive generation, changing very little with respect to goals and ideals. Depending on your age, you are the second, third, or fourth generation to come after that era that started nearly 80 years ago.
That dream worked out well for our ancestors, and maybe for their kids. But things have changed. Guaranteed pensions became incredibly volatile 401ks. Health care became more expensive and less helpful. College expenses multiplied by a factor of 10 or more, far outpacing inflation. We had kids later, and though we spent more time with them, they learned less about life because we protected them from it. The jobs our parents had changed dramatically for the worse, and by the time we got our degrees the jobs we wanted looked nothing like what we expected.
In short, living our ancestors’ dreams didn’t work out so well.
When we are born we make these and other silent agreements with our families, societies, religions, peers, employers, and other people and groups we may never meet. We obey the rules, norms, and laws of the countries we live in. We accept our familial beliefs. We learn the rules from the schools we attend. A lot of these rules are good. They keep us safe and peaceful. But some of these rules are just plain dumb, and it’s time we pushed back on the things that aren’t working out for most of us. It’s time for a NEW dream.
One of our basic human needs is to feel safe. I realized recently that I created my own safety as a kid in response to bullying. My thirteen-year-old self built a protective cocoon my bedroom filled with all the things I loved and valued. Maybe all teenagers do this, but looking back at those years I realized how necessary it was. Here’s this kid who’s feeling alone and isolated because he’s being bullied and doesn’t know how to do anything about it. So instead of getting depressed or acting out, he builds a place where he can feel safe, has value, and matters.
And though our lives change as we mature, those longings never go away. As an adult I an no longer bullied but carry the scars of isolation and reduced self-esteem. In some ways I have overcome those issues, yet in other ways I have not. And though i feel safe with my family and friends, I’d really like to feel the safety of my thirteen-year-old bedroom again.
It all makes me wonder, does our need for safety change as we age? Does it ever go away? Should it?
As a parent this topic is always on my mind. Am I a good parent? What should I be doing with my kids? Are my kids alright? Parenting can kind of dominate your identify if you let it. Especially for primary caregivers. And if you’re not a parent, you had parents. Or guardians who influenced you as a kid. So most of us had some sort of parental influence and might even be playing the influencer role currently or in the future.
I used to tell new parents that whatever you do is right. Now, that might not be entirely true, but it’s pretty accurate for parents who mean well. All of us can complain about something our parents did that shaped our lives forever, but most of our parents did the best they could. It’s an amazing relationship between ‘parent’ and ‘child’ and deserves a bit more out-of-the-box attention.
Here I share some of my observations about my parenting experience and my observations of other parents, non-parents, and kids. Turns out this is a huge topic and I barely scratched the surface.
Whether you have kids or not, you probably had some sort of guardians who raised you. Or at at least changed your diapers and fed you. Not everyone has kids, but you might one day; or at least have friends who do.
These relationships we call ‘parent’ and ‘child’ can be very complex. And much of what happens during our youth affects our adulthood. For better or worse.
Here I talk a bit about elements of parenting or growing up that you may not have considered. Or at least offer my unique insight about what parenting does to a person.
Our unique identities are important – we are all unique and add to the worlds’ diversity. But we also must participate in various communities. We follow norms and laws so that we can peacefully and safely interact with the people around us.
But how far should we go in either direction? Is no man (person) an island? Should we outlaw hermits? Do we need to consider everyone’s feelings or rights when going about our business?
My thoughts on our responsibilities to ourselves and others.