I read this somewhere on the ‘net, and it makes a lot of sense:
You will not have ‘I wish I’d worked more’ on your headstone. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
I found this quite true, and I am happy that I made conscious decisions ten years ago to change my work-a-day lifestyle that was killing me and killing my relationship.
Here is where I was and here is what I did.
Ten years ago, I was in the 20th year of a position with a large national agency. I had been promoted from entry-level up four rungs on the ladder to middle-management position and was still rising (or so I thought.)
I was literally married to my job. My work was so ingrained in my very existence that I perceived much of my own personal value from how well I thought I was doing at work. I would work very long hours, travel non-stop, answer email all hours of the day and night, check voicemail too and return calls around the country and around the world constantly.
I claim that I had a good relationship with my better half, but the goodness of that relationship was a credit to my man who accepted a lot of what I call “ignorance abuse.” I did not attend to him or our relationship as much as I hard-charged at my job. I gave it my all. I thought that I was at the pillar of existence, and admired by management so much that I was being groomed for a higher position.
But by July of 2004, things began to change. My boss who I liked was placed on super-secret double-whammy probation for alleged violations that he never did, but that was a method to clear him out of the way. They didn’t like him because he cared about the right things rather than generating revenue and office politics.
After he was shuffled out, I was reorganized and placed into a very difficult situation. Instead of being promoted into my boss’ Division Director position as hard as I worked, I was forced to accept a new-to-me-boss who was completely inept. And by November, I couldn’t take it any more and with a heavy heart, I accepted an early-out offer and resigned. My heart was torn, my spirit was shot. I didn’t “know” how to be “me” without that job.
That was the best thing that ever happened to me. My (then) partner sat me down and explained that I had become hard to live with. I was so intensely focused on my job, the rest of my life and those I loved were being ignored. I was bitter and angry. He looked me in the eye and said, “now you can become the man I fell in love with.”
…and I did.
I learned to relax more. I learned not to define myself by my job. I spent quality time with the man who means the world to me. I visited family and friends more often. I re-learned to laugh!
Because I had saved significant “rainy day” funds, I decided not to rush back to work just to have a job and a paycheck. Instead, I took on caregiving for an uncle who was in his last year of life. I helped him fulfill his bucket list of things he wanted to do before he died. That was the best unpaid job I ever had (though caring for his wife five years later was also a similarly fulfilling experience.)
And through the experience of taking on caregiving for my uncle, I was renewed. I learned to love life. I stopped taking myself so seriously. I grew up and grew out of a very confining shell of an existence that ultimately was destroying me.
Since that time, my life has changed immeasurably. I went back to work… first at a place-holder job and now in a job where I love what I do and think I am pretty good at it. But it is a job. Just a job. I do it at work then leave it at work.
I learned during the last decade that caregiving is a calling and caring for others fulfills my heart and makes my spirit soar. I make time for senior pals who fill my heart and my soul with purpose. I (try to) have fun. I ride my Harley or do other things like take long walks with my walking pal. So this blog doesn’t get a new post every day? Okay… my balanced life accepts that I can’t do everything like I used to … or that perhaps I do not want to do everything like I used to do.
When I am at home, I live with my man who said that one of the reasons that he married me is that I am a much better person. I live my life comfortably, but I don’t need or want an income stream to buy the latest fancy car or expensive toys just so I can say “look at me, look at what I have achieved in riches!”
No, I am more rich than what my salary provides. I have a great life with wonderful family, good friends, and a husband who in sickness and in health I will love until the end of my days on Earth. I make time to focus on my life… not my work… and smile. That’s really what it is all about.
Life is short: balance your life.