After the illness, then death, of a close family friend within a much too short six week period of time, I began to ponder the fragility of life and the limited time we have here on earth... When faced with our own mortality, many of us wonder if we have made the right choices about our lives and what other paths we could have chosen.
It is important to take the time to consider our options and to evaluate the choices so that we have time to work, time to play and time to make sure our life is as fulfilling as it can be. After all, the time we do have to "get it right" is limited. Sister Jean C. Peters, CSJ says in the CSJ Newsline "I do not suggest that hard work has no place in our lives, but it cannot have the only place. A sense of leisure and a spirit of play need space in us as well".
How do we achieve balance in our lives? It takes planning and it takes action. A friend of mine recently downgraded her job, cut her hours (and her paycheck) so she could pick up her daughter from school several times a week. It wasn't easy, but, she set up a budget and, with planning, calculated how she could live on her reduced income.
Flexible Work Options
Flexible schedule is another option. Working some hours in the office and some hours at home allows for more time with the family. Spending some of my work hours at home has benefited my employer - we now have email coverage on evenings and weekends rather than strictly during office hours. For those of us who do work from home setting limits is important. For some telecommuters, designated office hours have helped manage their time. Job Sharing is an another alternative - two people can often share one position.
Keep in mind that the worst that can happen if you ask your boss about flexible work options is that he can say no. If you don't ask, you won't have a chance. If you do, you may just be pleasantly surprised.
Make a Move
More dramatic measures are sometimes in order. Several years ago, Michael Landes, author of the Back Door Guide to Short-Term Adventures started a new life engaging in short-time work experiences. Michael recently told me that "It was all these short-term job adventures that allowed me to grow into this phase and open my eyes to what I really wanted - BALANCE in my career, life, relationships, and home. It's as if I came full circle I left my secure job, home, relationship, and community six years ago to explore the world (along with nurturing my dream and passion - my book, and everything that comes with that). The work component had really consumed my life. Now is the time to go back to what I left - but with fresh eyes and a new perspective... We will have phases through our entire life where one area will rise above the other - the key, however, is BALANCE."
Which reminds me of that classic Byrds song Turn, Turn, Turn:
To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven
Balance is possible and well worth the effort sometimes required to achieve it. After all, we really don't have forever.