Saturday, July 7, 2012

Work-Life Balance from Different Angles

In the past several weeks, when I've been with friends, talk has turned to work, and what we should do with their rest of our lives.

I have several friends who seem to be at the same point.  They sense that one era of their career life has passed, and they're sorting out what should come next.  One friend could keep doing what she's doing, but she's getting increasingly crabby.  One friend hated her last job so much that she just quit without a plan.

Of course, I have other friends who are terrified that the jobs that they love will be taken from them.

I have one friend who loves what she's doing and wants to do it for the rest of her life, but maybe in a different setting.

I have several friends who would love to retire, except we're far too young.

I ate lunch with one friend yesterday who looked at me like I had grown an additional arm when I said, "I wish I could just retire."

She said, "But what would you do with the rest of your life?"

I said that I'd write and work on other creative projects.  She asked, "But could you really do that for the rest of your life?  That's a long time."

I said, "Well, I've spent the last 40 years of my life working on my own creative projects, and I haven't lost interest yet.  So, yes, I could see myself doing my own creative work for the rest of my life.  That would sustain me."

I haven't figured out a way yet for my creative projects to support me financially, but my creative life sustains me intellectually and emotionally.  I was surprised that she was so surprised to find that out.

Maybe one reason why her work life has been so unfulfilling is that she's expected so much of it, and thus, her individual jobs have disappointed.  Whereas I have aspects of my work life, in all its incarnations, that have been fulfilling, but it's never been my be-all and end-all.

And maybe my creative life has continued to be nourishing because it has never had to be my be-all and end-all.  I've always had to balance it with my work life and other obligations.

It's a work-life balance issue that doesn't often find its way into national discussions.

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