BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
Do you have a work-life balance?
I’m jumping in with this question because so often when I’m talking to a woman about her life, she immediately jumps into talking about work and her job. Even when the conversation moves to non-work things, somehow, work talk creeps back in.
It’s almost as if so many of us define ourselves by our work and career successes. Which makes sense: how long have women struggled to get taken seriously at work in their careers? And how far do we still have to go?
The problem with the “hustle” and “hard-work” mentality? It doesn’t leave room for women to have the life they WANT to be living outside of work. Too many of us live and die by our phone and email, and in a society where immediacy is valued, I can’t tell you how many people have angrily responded to my boundary constructing autoreply that gives me time to answer an email. We’re expected to do things now!
Recently, a friend had someone call her out in a Facebook conversation that was completely unrelated – while it was a simple, “Hey I emailed you!” it had nothing to do with the conversation and post, and reeked of, “Well if you’re on here, why haven’t you answered me yet?”
Simple: we are more than our work.
This is a tough thing to get out heads around: of COURSE we are more than our jobs! We have such rich lives!
When you have nothing else to do, what are you doing? Do you feel that nagging feeling to just check email, just answer this email, just do this one thing for work? When you introduce yourself or take part in small talk with folks, do you immediately fall into talking about work because you don’t have much else to talk about?
Repeat after me: you are more than your work.
I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago, and she told me she didn’t have time for hobbies. I was horrified: how do you not have time for hobbies? There are so many fun things to do! Another friend just had to spend some time off work, and I offered her some books to read. She told me that they’ll just sit there because she doesn’t have time to read. Again, horrified: no time to read?!
And then I remembered how I was in NYC. Working a full-time job, building a full-time business. I had no hobbies and nothing more than my work. Now, I have loads of hobbies, and I’m more productive and doing BETTER work than I ever did when I was overworking myself. How do you start living a life that’s more than your work?
What’s something you really like to do that is not work? It shouldn’t be related to work at all – something completely off the career path. For a while, I was reading only business books. That’s not a hobby, that’s work. Find ONE thing you can do once a week, even if it’s 10 minutes of looking at plant pictures on Instagram.
Do it with INTENTION, not OBLIGATION
Here I am telling you to do something that is not work-related. I’m giving you an obligation: you have to do this because I said so (ha ha). Whatever you’re choosing to do, do it because you want to. If your new hobby is playing video games or playing with makeup again or joining a softball team or crocheting – make that your choice, not someone else’s. And don’t judge yourself or let anyone judge you and your hobby.
Think of What Makes You, You
If you’re struggling with finding something that is more than work and family, take a step back. What makes you who you are? What do you truly enjoy? Even if you love your work and your career, try to keep it away from work and career-related things. See what’s on that list that you can start doing again if you find yourself working 24/7.
One last time with feeling: You are much, MUCH more than your work.