We now live in a world where we are available to anyone at any time, and that can be extremely problematic. It never used to be like this, but as technology grows and adapts, so does our communication. We are expected to be available more and more these days. The pandemic has also been a contributor to this. Working from home for most people, made hopping on meetings or calls in a matter of minutes possible. Scheduling these things without notice is now becoming the new norm. It makes everyone feel disrespected, and yet, it continues to happen. When these societal and economical changes occur, they’re very difficult to change or remove them.
Over 70 years ago, most people happened to be working labour jobs, and throughout time, things have shifted drastically. Now the majority of us stare at a screen for over 9 hours a day. How did we get here? This is just the way it is, and we have to accept it, or find ways to remove ourselves from the well oiled machine.
When I was actively music supervising, my time was being demanded in a million places at once. I desperately wanted to find a healthy work/life balance, but couldn’t. The majority of the people I worked with were hyper-productive people. They tended to be from an older generation, and believed that the more you worked — the harder you worked. I really struggled with this, because I don’t believe this to be true. I don’t believe that the quantity of hours that I put into my career equates to the quality of my work. I think rest and shutting off is extremely important and healthy. Yes, I have to put in hours to evolve, learn and grow, but to do it 24/7? That’s not beneficial. I shouldn’t have to work all weekend, or spend my vacation answering emails or phone calls. When I visit my family, they shouldn’t be sad for me because I’m stuck working the whole time. And they definitely shouldn’t see me choosing my work over spending quality time with them.
Society encourages workaholic tendencies, as well as the idea of being “busy”, especially in North America. It’s not really like this in other countries around the world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people at events, parties or even friendly gatherings where I ask people how they’re doing, and they tell me how busy they are. As if being busy is seen as a positive thing, or that it equates to their success. And listen, no judgement.. Some people are happy living their life going from one thing to the next and working nonstop, that’s totally cool. Also, watching people’s businesses grow is also a beautiful thing, but I think it’s important to catch ourselves from getting stuck in the “busy” trap. Taking time for ourselves shouldn’t be deemed as a negative thing, it should instead be heavily encouraged.
If I don’t have a healthy work/life balance, my performance suffers. I also feel like there’s more to life than working 10+ hours a day. Wanting this for myself, doesn’t make me a lazy or incapable person either; It makes me effective. Finding out that music supervision wasn’t for me anymore was a hard pill to swallow, but it also gave me a lot of clarity. My definition of success has changed over the last few years, and I’m proud that I’ve come to that realization.
I strongly believe that there is a way to be productive and have a healthy work/life balance, but I don’t feel like that exists within music supervision. So rather than force myself to bend to the structure and rules of a career that demands so much of me, I’m taking what I’ve learned and evolving into the next chapter of my life, wherever that may be.
I hope that wherever you are in your life or your career, that you’ve found a nice work/life balance and are thriving! And if not, that you find peace and simplicity somewhere along the road.
If there’s one thing to take away from this week’s newsletter, it is that life shouldn’t be about how hard we’ve worked — it should be about how hard we’ve lived.
Great message to reflect on. I have always struggled with work/life balance. I taught for several years and often stayed late every night, prepping, marking etc, because I was also rehearsing, gigging and trying to fit in visits with my dad in long term care at the time. I was getting to the point of burn out. Three bands, a choir, 3 rehearsals, weekend gigs and 2 hours of traffic min 7 days a week.
I recently moved to a dream home, with a resort feel, have been trying to pace my studio time, with my work as a writer etc, so I can enjoy where I am and just soak in the sunshine and spend more time outside. I was physically and mentally craving it. There was no privacy or space in our old house. I was depressed, grieving the loss of my dad last year and I, like you, had to make some big changes to help my mental health and physical health, as well as work at personal relationships.
Dondra, thank you for writing. I wish the best for the interesting experiences yet to unfold in the next stages of your life's journey.