Last week, I was listening to the success episode on the TED Radio Hour podcast. I like this show because they bring on 5-6 speakers to go over the highlights of their TED talk. If one of the speakers sounds interesting, then I can look up the particular talk. In this episode, the focus was on what success means. One of the speakers, Alain de Botton, talked a bit about work life balance and he gave me something to think about.
I’m sure everyone here has struggled with work life balance at some point. We want to be successful at our job, but we also want to be successful outside of work as well. Work life balance promises that we can have it all. We just have to figure out how. Is this really true? I wanted to hear a success story from someone who has a good work life balance. Alain de Botton’s view is that you can’t be successful at everything and I’m inclined to agree with him.
Work Life Success?
When I first started working, I put in a lot of extra unpaid hours. I got promoted every few years and received regular raises. Work was the center of my existence because I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities outside of my job. I was single for a few years and my friends worked a lot, too. We went out on weekends and still had a lot of fun. In my early 20s, work life balance wasn’t very good because I gave most of my attention to work. However, that was fine because I didn’t have a family.
A few years later, I married Mrs. RB40 and work life balance was still pretty good. She was a mild workaholic so she didn’t mind me working late. We both liked being successful at our jobs. I cut back a bit at work to spend more time at home.
Fast forward to my late 30s and the picture is much different. I didn’t like my job anymore and I avoided extra hours like the plague. We had a baby and we wanted a good family life for him, for all of us. Mrs. RB40 still liked work, but she was not a workaholic anymore. We had a home that needed occasional work. We had rental properties. I was running a blog that required a few hours of attention every day. My mom needed a little help once in a while. Life got a lot more complicated as life tends to do. There are just not enough hours in a day to do everything. I’m sure every single one of us feels that way at some point.
I guess that’s modern life. Everyone is running ragged. Sometimes I feel like the only thing propping up society is coffee. That’s why Starbucks is so successful!
Many roles to fill
I decided to trim down a bit by quitting my job. Yes, it was drastic, but I got rid of the task I enjoyed the least and I’m now concentrating on things that matter more to me. Even without a job, life is still a big juggling act. There are just too many roles to fulfill. Let me share some of them.
Dad – I think I’m doing a great job as a dad. I spend a lot of time with RB40 Junior and we have a great relationship. He’s growing up so fast. I can’t believe he’s 4 already. He is a little rascal and it can be difficult to be patient with him. My dad didn’t spend much time with us when we were kids and we weren’t a high priority for him. Our relationship is pretty strained now, unfortunately. I want to build a stronger bond with my son and I think I’m succeeding.
Husband – I’m not doing very well as a loving husband. We haven’t been on a date since last fall when we went away to a hot spring resort. We really need to find a good babysitter so we can have some date nights without the third wheel. I need to make a major improvement here. We’re still a happy couple, but even good relationship needs maintenance. (Is maintenance the right word?)
Taking care of a home – I’m not doing great here either. I cook pretty often so at least I’m good there. I also vacuum pretty often. I’m slacking on the other chores and Mrs. RB40 is picking up some slack with laundry, dusting, doing dishes, and such.
Family CFO – I’m doing pretty well in this department. Our finances are going smoothly and we’re still saving and investing. No worries here.
Blogger – Honestly, this one is a struggle. It’s all I can do to write articles, answer emails, respond to comments, and keep the backend going. I could improve much more on monetization, social media, networking, and other facet of blogging. I’m satisfied for now because I’m putting being a dad ahead of this part time gig.
Son – My mom is with my brothers in California right now. She is going to split her time between my family and my brothers’. She needs help with signing up for healthcare, taxes, scheduling appointments, and various other things. She is relatively healthy so she doesn’t need a huge amount of my time at this point.
Landlord – Our rentals occasionally need repairs, yard work, and various other maintenance duties. I’m just fixing one thing at a time and it will take extra time to fix minor issues. I’m not the best landlord, but not the worst either.
As you can see, I’m still stretched pretty thin. How did I ever hold down a full time job? Anyway, my highest priorities right now are being a good dad, husband, and family CFO. I’m doing pretty well as a dad and family CFO, but I have a lot of room to improve as a husband. The other roles will take the back seat for now.
Alain de Botton pointed out that success is highly suggestible. Our definition of success comes from our parents, advertising, neighbors, friends, and many other sources. If you are trying to be successful at something, then make sure it’s your own definition and not someone else’s.
How is your work life balance? What’s your most successful role and are you proud of that?
Image credit: flickr by Alaskan Dude
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!
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