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.
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.
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.
If you’re part of the Rat Race, you’re a Rat Racer! And maybe you’re doing really well. Winning, even. But even if you win, like Lily Tomlin said, you’re still a Rat.
That’s how I have felt during the 35 years I’ve been working. Even when I got my ‘dream job’ as a professor, I still felt the pressure to win the Rat Race. Even now that I’m trying to do my own thing, and figure out what other options there are besides the Rat Race, I feel the tug.
Though this episode is from summer 2020, I am currently exploring alternatives to the Rat Race. Or, more accurately, alternatives to the money, fame, and power that you can win in the Rat Race. That’s the pull, after all, isn’t it?
What if we valued things above money, fame, and power? Like, loving relationships, intelligence, curiosity . . . money will always be important, but what if there were other things to win that were recognized as meaningful to all?
More on that later this week. For now here’s a look back at why the Rat Race sucks.
Have you ever felt like a slave to the 40 hour workweek? I know I never signed up for that, but I learned early on that to do the fun stuff I want to do I have to work for money to do it. Sure, I’ve had some hippie friends who tried a different tactic, and I even tried to pretend I could live on very little if I just didn’t spend much. But, yeah, then I got married and had kids and, well, you know the story. Work is a 4-letter word for many of us, but the j-o-b pays the bills. We end up spending a lot of time working, and if the job sucks, it affects the rest of our life and cuts into our limited ‘me’ time to do all that fun stuff. Hell, a lot of us have so little free time that we kind of give up on the whole ‘life’ thing.
But I BELIEVE we can attain a work/life balance; do the fun stuff we want to do. Exercise. Meditate. Contemplate our naval. That stuff’s important – it’s part of being human. So we gotta learn to deal with the work side, either by tolerance, minimization, but also in learning to take advantage of what little time we have leftover to live our lives.
So here I talk a bit about people I’ve known and different approaches to balance. From maximizing work and making large bank, to combining work and life to ‘live your passion’, and some random ideas I came up with during the recording processes. Hope you enjoy and best of luck doing your own delicate balancing acts!