Work is important. It’s where we spend a large majority of our time, but it’s not the be all and end all.
Yes, we need work for an income, to pay our bills and to keep a roof above our heads. For many of us our work or our profession defines us, to a large extent. You might have a job which makes you proud. You might have impressed others with your meteoric rise up the career ladder or perhaps you have a rags to riches story and now run a large and successful business. Achievements should be celebrated and admired, but it is worth remembering that there are other things which are important too.
This realisation has been brought home to me this weekend. I had to call an ambulance for my dad on Thursday night and again on Friday morning, due to his extremely poor health. He is now being treated in hospital. I knew he was getting progressively worse all of last week and yet I still didn’t go to visit him. Instead I was continuing to spend my time chasing references for my new job, sorting out issues with my old job, networking on Linked In, working on my blog and my social media strategy. What I should have done was to have put that aside for a few days and to have put family first.
It’s the second time in recent months when I’ve mistakenly put work before anything else. The other occasion was when I was so focussed on a special anniversary at my work place that I completely forgot it was my brother’s birthday.
It’s not easy is it, establishing and maintaining the perfect work life balance, but it is something extremely important to strive for. Luckily for me I’ve worked for some very understanding bosses over the years and most have been extremely flexible when it has come to childcare or family issues. One of my former editors told me that he didn’t care what hours I kept, as long as the work was done. I was very fortunate that I was always able to work my hours around my daughter’s school plays, sports days and prize days. Also, I had some great support from some lovely colleagues. Now she’s 21 and lives in London so I no longer have these issues.
But recent events have made me think that work shouldn’t always come first. And while it’s important to be focussed and committed and while I’m proud of my work ethic, my career and my achievements, sometimes I need to take my foot off the pedal, just a bit, to relax more, occasionally take a back seat and to take stock of my life and all that’s important to me.
Sometimes we all need to take a step back and to look at the bigger picture.