My mom works hard. As in, she works hard at her job. And she’s 82, going on 83 (I like to talk about age like a first-grader; it’s more fun).
Not only has she worked since she was 12 (you could call it child labor, but she would probably just call it survival); she still shows up 4-5 days a week at my brother’s tennis retail store to manage his bookkeeping and vendors.
When I call my mom during the day, she’s usually at work. Being “all business” like she is, she doesn’t have much time to talk. Usually she just wants to get back to her duties.
Thinking back through my career, I was much the same way – all business. I was “in the zone” all day, every day, sometimes even on weekends. If I got a phone call between meetings, it was always brief. Or maybe it was just me who was brief. Yikes.
Anyway, it’s a few years later and I feel like I’m just now relearning how and when to draw boundaries around my family life, my marriage and other important relationships so I know what’s important outside “the zone.” Heck, even to remember that there is life outside “the zone.”
I’m also re-learning how to work.
A friend challenged me several years ago to consider that work could actually look different than the traditional 9-to-5 workday. I’d wanted that for years.
Still, I couldn’t get my head around it for me. In fact, it’s taken until now to get the picture. Honestly, I’m surprised I like it. I had no idea I could be that stuck in old ways.
Why did I fight it for so long? I love teams and collaboration, and it has been hard to be alone this much. But the truth is, you can be around people as much or as little as you want when you work on your own. I need to get with that program, too.
Work ethic vs. family: A both/and decision
It’s great to see my parents’ work ethic in myself, especially now, without the distortion I added for so many years.
Going forward, I want to value my own life and my family’s as much as I can — not to mention the limited time we have together, never to be taken for granted.
While working hard is something I love to do, it’s also a means to an end. It’s what allows me the freedom to enjoy the many beautiful relationships in my life. And for that I have a newfound, heartfelt gratitude.