Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 14: Work/Life balance - say what now?

I had a pretty good day at work yesterday. I was feeling pretty good about it, comfortable but challenged.

And then I read a facebook post from one of my colleagues that basically says work life balance can never be achieved because anything worth fighting for is unbalancing (Hi work colleague if you're reading this, love you).

I walked in the door, snapped at poor unsuspecting Inspector Climate who was about to walk out the door to go for his run (sporting some fantastic short shorts - meow!), and then I proceeded to fight back the tears.

The industry I'm in - the one that is fighting climate change - isn't known for work life balance. In fact, people work extraordinarily long hours, people volunteer days of their time, people work on weekends, late nights, early mornings.  Those people aren't me.

That morning I got work at 7:30 and I checked my email for the last time at 5:30. It was an unusual day because I took a lunch break - to do team bonding with my colleagues - I can't remember the last time I took a lunch break. I work hard, but I constantly feel inadequate.

I constantly feel like I'm the only one who seems worried about this mythical work - life balance conundrum.

My main anxieties about my job is that everyone else around me in my office appears to be more dedicated then I am, and it upsets me to no end.  I'm always the one that raises my hand and says "What about work-life balance? What about self care? What about healthy people?"

Am I not fighting hard enough? Am I not dedicated enough? Are penguins going to die because I didn't attend meet ups with other "industry" people, that I didn't work longer hours, sleep less, fight more, attend less yoga classes, hurt my relationship with Inspector Climate, eat shit food, gain weight, support Coles and Woolworths instead of organic food producers (you know, because I don't have time to shop smart), and cry myself to sleep at night?

I admire and wish I had that kind of attitude to my work. But the truth is, I don't. I don't believe climate change can just be fought by working hard at work. That's a HUGE part of it...HUGE. But it's not all. It has to be fought at every level. It has to be fought by changing the food we eat, by taking the time cook it with love and comfort for the people we love and comfort. It has to be fought by people who grow their own food instead of supporting big business. People who take the time to shop for gifts made by local small businesses instead of corporate giants. It has to be fought by building societies of healthy people who feel good about their bodies because they exercise and when they feel good they act 'good.'  It has to be fought by people who travel and take time off to see the world we're trying to protect and save.  It has to be fought by people in loving relationships who have partners and friends and family, with networks of people who will build communities out of love that will fight too.

And yes, it has to be fought by working hard, and putting in long(er) hours.

The balance will always be challenge, just like solving climate change, but if we don't aim for it, fight for it, push for it - I don't see us solving The Problem We Face at all.


  1. Gosh I struggled.. STRUGGLED with the work - life balance for 5 years straight in the film industry. So I'd like to say that at least your work means something to the world. I realized that I was working 12-16hour days 7 days a week and putting my life on hold for a movie no one was going to care about after the Oscars.

    I think the work-life struggle, no matter what your job/career is, is an ongoing battle until you retire. It's scary. All you can do is try to balance and hope for the best.

  2. I find the whole work-life balance thing difficult! Putting it simply, work takes up the majority of our lives so we have to decide what is most important: work or everything else?! Yes our jobs our important and we are trying to achieve something, but at the same time, I know if I let work affect my personal life and my relationships too much, I will regret it when I retire. So now I will only work a certain number of extra hours each week and I will only join in on one work activity each month. Our personal lives are just as important as our careers and I remind my work peeps of that all the time!!

  3. Balancing work and life is difficult. At the end of the day, it would lean towards what you value more. I was working for an events and interior design company several years ago where I prioritized my work more and completely forgot about 'life'. I had to give up weekends, holidays, time with family, and survived on fast food deliveries(no time to cook). I enjoyed what I was doing so even though there was too much competition in the working environment, I was up for it..but then it took a major car accident to shake and wake me up and made me realize whether it was all worth it. Then I started living more.

  4. I could not agree more that change has to happens at ALL levels in order to be sustainable, and in order to have an actual impact. Keep pushing, keep encouraging your co-workers to see that until they live their beliefs at every level, it's going to be hard to see real change.

    I really hope you take more lunch breaks. They are important for the soul.

  5. And this is why I don't get on facebook. :) All kidding aside, it's super hard. And I was that really tired, not healthy, didn't care about anything except work person and it wasn't exactly pleasant. But if it's worth it (and oftentimes you won't know until the end), then it's quite alright for there not to be balance? I'm all about the extremes if that's something that's for you

  6. My friend from college is writing her thesis on the elusive work-life balance... and she posted about it on FB today. Wouldn't it be a small world if we have the same friend? And still a strange coincidence, regardless.

    I try to look at it this way... I work because it provides me with the means to live my "real" life. I do get pleasure from my job because I like my team and enjoy my day to day tasks, but I'm not changing the world and I'm okay with that.

  7. Look at your NaBloPoMo-ing like nobody's business!

    I can't offer any insight into the work life balance as I'm currently unemployed, and worked only part-time before that, but back when I was a full time teacher in Paris, I found the balance very hard. I think we feel that we can always do more, either for work or in our home lives, but you know yourself better than anyone and have to do what is necessary to stay healthy physically and mentally. Don't beat yourself up over not working the same hours as your co-workers. Everyone is different, and you can't compare your life to theirs. Just keep doing your thing and being awesome :)

  8. I am one who thinks it's so important to have a great work life balance. When I'm at work, I am dedicated and I work hard. But the second I leave work, I focus on my personal life. Without this balance, I think I'd go nuts!

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

  9. I guess we do what we can at work. And we are finding more and more ways to recycle.

    Basically, I work with the life of a book and then one wonders will there be any books in libraries, some day. Always a new e-book around the corner somewhere.

    But then how much do we invest in mending this book? When do we kill it? Then where does it go? I think we answer more questions about the matters of books in our little community. Donations are abundance. Still, in the work place I think its an issue we all deal with..where ever the paper trail may go.

    Inside that system is the politics ..and jokes..of librarians. Just how many does it take to solve a mystery of a missing book?

    Of course, its always good not to be talking about books and reports at work...all the time. Great to talk about what you saw on TV or this moving coming out, or who is on the X-Factor.

    Just keep smiling. Before you know it, you'll know someone a lot like yourself who is going through a lot of the same things you are. And I seriously think that is the joy of working. Working with others. And sometimes letting fines go with no worries. Now if only I could figure out how to get a better paycheck.

  10. Such dedication to saving the planet is admirable, but what a shame if you're always in the office and never get to enjoy it?

    I don't struggle with work/life balance. I have a 9-5.15 job that requires very little in the way of extra hours and I nearly always get to take a lunch break. I'd rather sacrifice income to have time to do the things I enjoy outside work. (Not that I'm badly paid. I'm lucky to work in an industry where admin staff are paid well above award.) Obviously I'm not particularly ambitious or career-oriented.

  11. You know, I think my grandpa had it down. He gave over 100% at work, 8-5, M-F (if at all possible)--even when he was dying of cancer. He worked until he could work no more. But since he stuck to set working hours, he always had time for family and friends. Always.

    Funny thing, the things he cared about and fought for, we continue to care about and fight for . . .

  12. I agree with Maylee. Once I'm done with work, I'm DONE with work. It's important for everyone to have that balance or else you'll go crazy. In fact, I'd argue that we need more time for time for personal endeavors and less work time! Ha.