Today is quittin’ day, 2nd month of this leap year. My last day of work. On my drive home I notice a sort of release in my entire being, a letting go.No real thoughts attached, just a sense of relief. Chains being broken. Energy being restored. By the time I get home, I feel elated, excited, expansive, energized. It’s contagious, and Chris begins to catch what I have. We find ourselves giggling, talking fast, creative juices flowing, ideas pouring out of what things we want to do and learn. Wow! It’s not that I didn’t love my job, it’s that my job left no room in my being for anything else. My job clearly bound me, and I struggled every day with how to let it go. Let it go! Simple but not easy.
There’s much written about work/life balance. But work is life, a big part of life, and life is full of work, whether paid or unpaid. Work is not the enemy, but sometimes a job can be. Sometimes, a job can be so demanding, it interferes with our other important work such as the work of caring for our children, the work of tending to our families, the work of nurturing our friendships, the work of nourishing our souls. It’s all work. Work is a beautiful thing. So I think when we talk about work/life balance, what we’re really saying is job/life balance. A 40 hour per week job is about a quarter of our life, but depending on the job, it may be much, much more. For some, this is okay. Their job is their life and their sole focus. For many others, they have other important work to tend to. How much time do we spend beyond the 40 hours we get paid for: ruminating about “job related” stuff, reading emails, travel time to and from the job, and the list goes on and on. As I’ve been practicing being mindful of my thoughts, I have noticed they are almost totally consumed with job related things from the first thing in the morning until I go to bed at night. See here for article about thoughts by Wes Nisker that I read while doing my MBSR course. My colleagues frequently talked about waking up at the 3 A.M. bewitching hour, obsessed with worry thoughts about their job. Sometimes a job can consume us so much, we have nothing left for our other important work.
So, it seems that part of this job/life balance is practicing mindfulness and being aware of each precious moment, and stop wasting so many precious moments lost in thought or conversation beyond the 40 hours we are paid for, and instead use those moments to be fully engaged in our other imporant work. Again, sounds so simple, but not easy. Sometimes a job, even one that we love and gives us meaningful work, may run so much interference with the rest of our life’s work, that the only way we can really let go, is by simply leaving, by actually giving ourselves the physical space we need to reduce the chatter and run away thought train. This is the choice I’ve made, but I’ve been fortunate enough to minimize my financial risk by saving and planning for this next chapter in my life, I just may have departed sooner than previously planned. My letting go actually involved ending my job. I believe we are created to work. It brings us much fulfillment and meaning in our lives. Me writing this blog is work (though unpaid) and I love doing it. As I write this, Chris is doing research on purchasing a Come-A-Long to help his building project. He is “working”. As Chris and I start this next leg of our journey, I will be curious to see how our work evolves now that I am not confined to a job…but then, there’s always the issue of money.
Until next time ~ Diane