Don’t confuse having a career with having a life

“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.” – Shonda Rhines

What is the purpose of life?

The truth is nobody knows, we all have our theories, and the only thing it boils down to in the end is the realisation that life is short. Each day is a borrowed day, every second isn’t a given right, it is a luxury. We don’t have much control on how long we get to live for, the only choice we get is to live it how we want it to be lived.

My opinion on life is that I was given an opportunity to live – why I do not know, but I am grateful for it and want to live my life to it’s fullest and make memories every single day that I will treasure and take to my grave with me.

The true fact is that to live, we must work (whether that be going out to work, or looking after a loved one at home). With no income, there is no roof over our heads or food in our mouths. But at which point do we have to learn to balance living a life with working?

Is work classed as living a life? I think this depends on the type of person you are, and truly depending on who you are there is no right or wrong answer. If you love working day in day out, then do it! At the end of the day that is your choice and if you are happy doing so, then carry on. To me happiness is living, no matter what it is that you are doing that makes you happy (unless it’s criminal, then that is a total different story!).

For many it is a case of getting an even balance, having a happy work life, a great family life and making memories that will stick with you forever. Reminiscing over the memories over a burnt chicken roast, laughing tears of joy at the funny things that have taken place throughout the times you’ve spent together. The hours of joy you have when pulling out the family album and treasuring the photos you are grateful for taking.

Special moments don’t have to be getting on a plane and fluttering off to a luxurious destination. Taking a walk with your loved ones around your nearest lake or dam is just as precious, if not more special… Money does not always buy happiness, although sometimes it can help a little! I’m not going to say it doesn’t.

Can you get the balance of a happy work life with also having a personal life?

The answer is yes, but sometimes work does consume us. And without realising, it can take a hold of you and all of a sudden before you know it, you no longer have a social life, you spend little time with your family and start missing out on making memories.

Me and my partner, that I love dearly, have recently had a conversation regarding the above. We went from seeing each other everyday to barely seeing each other at all. As the years went by I started to see him less and less. I don’t think this year I have seen him for more than a month in total if you add the odd hours and days we have spent together.

He also has his daughter every other weekend which I occasionally don’t spend with them as I think it is important to get the one to one bounding time. I didn’t get the luxury of making a strong relationship with my father when I was younger, and I don’t want my partners daughter to miss out on what I did. Especially with his work occasionally impacting his weekends with her,  I think it is even more important that they get that one to one time.

Adding the above into the equation (which I do not mind at all, I encourage it) it means that I get to see him even less.

The question is, is he happy? Am I happy? From the recent conversation the answer was no. Neither of us are happy, for different reasons.

I started missing him less and less whilst he was working away, while he continued to miss me just as much. But honestly, I became so used to him being away and no longer surprised at his next weeks rota marking him as away all week that it just became normality, I had to start making a life without him rather than sitting in four walls twiddling my fingers waiting for him to come home. When you think about it, it’s quite sad. Whilst it is important to also have a healthy balance between socialising and having a life with your partner, we just got to a point where we didn’t seem to have a life together anymore. It was always “It is more than likely just going to be me coming to the party, Jack will probably be working but his going to try and make it”.

And the times he did make it, he was just exhausted and drained, stopping up 30 hours to be somewhere. And whilst you want to be happy that they are there, you just feel sorry for them, and wished they’d stayed at home to get the rest that they needed.

He never intended for work to become the main priority in his life but it just somehow happened. One day he opened his eyes and realised that he had lost a lot of time by working instead of making memories. He got given a promotion at work and he took it on in his stride, and he did a blimmin good job at it and I am so incredibly proud of him. The promise was that he wouldn’t be away from home as often, but somehow it turned the opposite way around, he started working away more and more… When we did get time together his phone would be buzzing with messages or his phone ringing, but it was work. Not friends or family. “Perks of the job I suppose eh”.

We spoke, and to be honest, he did not know what to do. He loves his position, his title and the job that he does but he does not enjoy the crazy hours that he has to do… How do you get that happy balance? Is it even possible?

I think the answer is yes, and I am honestly quite surprised at his work, considering his expressed before his concerns with working away so often. One response he got was “you’ve got to work hard to get to where I have got today”… But that’s only all well and good if you want a life full of work, and no actual life. I just thought, good for your boss but that isn’t your ambition in life, you don’t want your own company, you want a career. But you don’t have to churn your guts out to get there, you just have to work hard and be ambitious in the time you do work.

I am a Manager myself, I sometimes get called “unique” in my type of management that I apply at work. But my utter most importance for my staff is that they have a happy work and social life. Why? If they are happy at work, then they will go home cheerful and bubbly, not sad and upset with the day which then impacts their relationship with their friends or families at home because they are stewing over their day at work. Then you have the reverse fold, if they have a happy social life, the will come to work happy.

My staff are like my second family, it isn’t all about stats and customer satisfaction, I like to know that they are generally ok outside of work. I believe I should earn their respect and not just gain it automatically because of my “title”. Because that is exactly what it is, it is just a title on a piece of paper and doesn’t make me anymore important than they are.

Unhappy staff result in poorer outcome of work, demotivation and a total disinterest for the well-being of a company. But to some companies, staff are just a figure on a piece of paper.

But I suppose we are all different and go by different morale’s in life. I personally don’t want to make other peoples lives miserable just for a boost in figures. That is just not who I am.

My career is important to me, but it is just as important to me as my life outside of work. I want to ensure that I live and I want to make the memories with my partner, stories we can tell to our potential future children. I could work like crazy outside of work, there is always work to be done… But I rarely bring my work home with me.

The truth is that the even balance between work and a social life is also important to my partner, he just needed to come to the realisation that work is not the be-all-end-all, and that he is valuable. And his work ethnic could be applied anywhere he wanted it to. He is hard working and loyal to every company he has ever worked for.

You will be glad to know at the end of all that waffling, he is weighing up his options and thinking towards how he can achieve both a happy work life and social life! Unfortunately I do not have an ending to the story for you just yet. But we are both a lot happier having spoken about it.

The main point is, you only get one life. You don’t know when your time is going to be up, so whilst we all have to work, make sure you make the living you want to. And I don’t mean in earnings, I mean in happiness and memories… Happiness doesn’t come with a price tag.

One of the people in my life that I admire and idolise is my best friend Kelly. And to me she is living proof that you can get a happy balance between work and a social life.

She has been through hell and back, and suffered such a massive loss in her life after losing her father at a young age of 20. But somehow, being the amazing person she is, she kept on at it and graduated from University with awesome results. I couldn’t have been more proud of her!

She went onto teaching, but as much as she enjoyed it, and being the social little bee that she is, it was taking over too much of her social life. She saw that she was missing out on time with her family who are incredibly important to her, as well as her friends, so she decided to make a change.

And a total dramatic change at that, she completely changed her career path and took up an amazing job offer in the Forensic department. I can’t give a load of information as it is confidential, but take it this way, she landed her self an amazing job, and she got the social life back that she enjoys and loves. It didn’t just land on her lap out of nowhere, she put the time and effort in to get where she has today. But I can’t remember a time where she ever became a stranger in my life, through all her education, hard work, hard times, she has always stayed connected with her family and friends.

Work at getting the balance that you desire – as I have said, you only get one life, make sure it is the one that you want. We don’t have full control over what happens in our lives, and sometimes things happen where we can’t take hold of the steering wheel and redirect. But take hold of every bit of life that you have within you and ensure you live at least a happy one. We don’t need diamonds and expensive cars in our lives to make it joyful.


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