It’s not uncommon to miss out on the significant moments in your ‘real life’ when you’re trying to build your career.
They aren’t always the big things like birthdays or bathtimes. More the gossamer, almost imperceptible threads that bind us to our friends and family. A chat. A coffee. A hug. A smile. A joke. They might only take seconds. But they mean everything.
I’ve missed out on more than I care to imagine. I convinced myself that I had to be at the office, pushing, tunnel-visioned, giving it everything I had if I wanted to progress. Too busy and focused for personal interruptions. And the truth is, I did have to do that. People who didn’t fell by the wayside. This was the culture of success. But it isn’t now. Or at least, it doesn’t need to be now. I think back to those pre-Covid years with a heavy heart. Because now I’m not forced to make the same binary choices.
We’ve had a collective epiphany
Work and life can be a more fluid arrangement for many of us thanks not so much to advances in technology, but to advances in how we are learning to accept the help of technology. And right now, it seems that the fabled work-life balance might actually be within our grasp. Our shifting working practices have been driven by necessity over the last two years, but they are now often a matter of choice.
I hope that we are all able to build on the lessons we’ve learnt. That we enshrine this new culture and attitude. Being able to pursue the careers we want whilst still allowing us to enjoy the things that truly make life worthwhile will, I’m sure, unlock a new, diverse and hugely valuable workforce.
The enmeshing of work and life can sometimes feel quite intrusive, but the benefits outweigh the concerns. We can now control our time in a way that was unimaginable a few years back. WFH is now accepted as a positive. Zoom calls make more sense than three hours of wasted travel time. WhatsApp or Slack keep us all in a loop in real-time. Live document sharing means easy collaboration. And, in the near future I’ll also be advocating for the positives of a more immersive working experience in the metaverse. Finally, it seems, that ‘Working to live’ is being viewed as a good thing. Not as a slacker alternative to ‘Living to work.’ This is an unimaginable shift forward.
I’m optimistic for my kids’ generation as they now enter the workforce. There’s a good chance that they won’t ever face those same difficult choices. We’ve proving that careers can be fulfilling without suppressing our need to connect with those closest to us. Let’s not let it go. It’s far too precious. The task now is to hold on to that philosophy.
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