Testing work-life balance

The term work-life balance has been around for a while.

As is the case with popular phrases, they tend to be overused. Everyone seems to be chasing this elusive balance, yet in fact, many of us are working longer hours than ever before.

When I first started working for myself as a freelancer, my brother and I organized for my 15-year-old nephew to come and stay with me for a couple of days. It was his first solo trip away without his parents (not counting school camps), so it was kind of a big deal for him.

Before he was due to come and stay with me, I got sick and couldn’t work for a couple of days. I went into a bit of a panic. With 3 days away from work sick and facing 3 more days off work shortly after, I found myself wanting to reach for a brown paper bag to hyperventilate into.

After reviewing my workload and realizing how behind I was, I considered canceling my nephew’s visit.

Though I did not have an editor deadline on the horizon (this fact alone freaked me out because I needed an editorial deadline), my pitching was not going well, my blog needed attention and I was extremely behind on my weekly work plan.

Surely I had no choice but to cancel my nephew’s trip.

Then I started thinking about things other than work.

My nephew is about to turn 16. He will be driving soon. He’s approaching the age where he will be more interested in hanging out with his own friends than his family.

To be honest we (his family) have been lucky to have him to ourselves for this long.

On top of that, I haven’t seen him for quite a long time.

A lack of time and money (and being focused on work) meant that I hadn’t visited my family for some time.

If I canceled on my nephew, he would be disappointed. I didn’t want to disappoint him or myself for that matter.

Despite the fact that I was behind with work, I made the decision not to cancel.

My nephew and I had a wonderful time together. We enjoyed each others company. We went to the movies, museum, and art gallery. Our dinner out was at a lovely Thai restaurant. Thankfully my nephews taste buds are maturing and he is willing to be more experimental with food!

The work, well it’s still here waiting to be done. 

Working over the weekend helped, as did working extra hours in the evening. The ability to work flexible hours is definitely one of the pros of freelancing.

Either way, I’m glad I didn’t cancel. I wouldn’t want to have missed that time spent with my nephew.

Sometimes it is about balance and making sure you get some downtime to relax but honestly most of the time, it’s about priorities.

I had to make my nephew a priority in this situation.

It’s also about opportunities because sometimes they don’t come along again.

Sometimes what we have on offer is the opportunity that we need to take to achieve balance in our lives.

Missing opportunities can lead to regret and there’s not a lot of balance going on there.

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