Although my career is extremely important to me and I want to try to provide my son with the same opportunities that my parents provided to me, I don’t want “A Good Worker” engraved on my headstone, either. Like most fathers around the world, I want my kid to have a great childhood and remember me as a loving dad.
On top of that, as a Gen-Xer, I am a member of the Sandwich Generation. I worry about my parents and I worry about my kid. It’s a lot to juggle but I believe that I have the answer. There’s no trick to it; it’s simple.
Time. Time with your family and friends. Especially your family. “Get to know your parents. You never know when they will be gone for good,” wrote Baz Luhrmann.
There is no such thing as quality time. It’s all quality. I’m hoping when my son Levi is a young man that the time my wife and I are spending with him now will pay off and help guide him.
I strongly believe that life is all about balance. Too much of anything isn’t good. I talk the talk, however I’m still figuring it out.
Living in Metro Vancouver, I intimately understand that the cost of living in most Canadian cities is outrageous. I’m self-employed. No worky, no payee. Luckily, many employers are starting to get it and offer flex time and family responsibility days. Others understand how productive remote workers can be and are allowing employees to work at home.
Working remotely isn’t all baseball hats and watering your garden in a housecoat. Sure there is a little bit of that but it’s not for everyone. You need discipline to maintain the balance. Having a home office is both a blessing and a curse. Obviously the biggest challenge for most is that it’s easy to get distracted. Personally, I’m highly motivated by the fear of poverty so distractions aren’t a problem for me. If my stakeholders aren’t happy with my results, then the party’s over. It’s that simple.
Like many, I have the opposite problem: it’s too easy to sit down and work. There is always a list of projects to do. Or taxes. Or bookkeeping. I grind away evenings, weekends and statutory holidays, missing out on bike rides, trips to the water park, the pool and countless more. But for each late night (it’s almost midnight now), I get a morning where I can walk my son to and from school. Since Levi was born, I’ve gotten him ready in the morning and taken him to daycare, preschool, kindergarten and grade one. He’s in grade two now and in the big picture of life, you cannot put a price on that.
Career, family or self – pick two. At this point in my life, I have chosen to simmer self on the back burner (mostly) and focus as much energy on my career and family as possible. That’s fine for the short term but it’s not sustainable.
Getting creative with my “flexible” work hours has helped, however the longer I do this, the better I get at spotting time-wasters. As a pleaser, I can spot a time-waster but I still try to help. More often than not, I get screwed. To help prioritize, I am making an effort to do a simple acid test: is this in the best interest of my career, family and friends or myself? Because if it is taking away time that I can be spending on any of the Big Three, it should be a no-brainer to let it go.
Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the toy. Eat the cake. Fire the time-wasters.
“When you coming home, son?/I don’t know when/ But we’ll get together then, Dad./We’re gonna have a good time then.”
Rich Porayko is a professional writer and founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company located in Metro Vancouver, B.C.
That's Rich: Thoughts on life/work balance
Some thoughts on work/life balance.
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