What Happened to Work/Life Balance?

When I talked to my friend after my layoff, she told me about something her father said when he retired. He gave countless hours to make the companies he worked for successful.  He gave a lot of himself and spent a lot of time on the road.  Upon his retirement, he reflected about how most of the companies were no longer in business.

Now this thought can really mess with your mind if you let it.  I was born at the end of the baby boomer generation.  We were taught loyalty – brand and company.  We created the workaholics and the superwomen.  I was taught you work hard, do whatever it takes, give extra and in return you get security.  Security gave way to profitability and growth.  (It’s all very interesting if you research the Veterans, the Baby Boomers, and Generations X, Y, Z.  It really does help you understand the dynamic of the workplace.)

As I am starting a new job search, I look back at all the places I have worked in my career.  Some of them still exist, of course, such as the Air Force.  But most companies have been bought out, gone out of business, realigned, downsized, resized or gone bankrupt.  I am fighting how much more I am willing to give companies that still may not outlast me!  Of course I need a job and will continue the search, but it makes you stop and think.  It makes you question your motives and think about the quality of your life.

Unfortunately in our economy, having a job still almost always equals having health care.  That’s a big one.  One you can’t get away from.  It’s the hook that keeps people like me from just retiring early.  Ahhhh, wouldn’t that be nice.

So, I will continue to put in countless hours going out and trying to sell myself.  I will fill out application after application and fight about how to handle the illegal questions.  If I leave them blank (which I should) my application may just end up in the round file.  I will struggle with how much of my time I give to the work of finding a job and how many pages and pages of documents I fill out in such strange formats that cutting and pasting is not an option.

I hope some of the Generation X, Y and Z’s out there, come to business with fresh ideas where loyalty is balanced between what you give the company and what you give your family.

This thought process also leads me down the road of crafting a new life for myself and daring to believe I can work just as hard for me and not give my essence away.  I will still be here at the end of my life.  The batting average for the companies I have worked for thus far, not so good.

I’m attracted to stopping and smelling the roses for a change….


Either You’re On the Train or You’re Off the Train

We have been going through so many changes at work.  It has been a difficult six months.  Last week, one of the leadership team screamed at us “Either You’re On the Train or You’re Off the Train”.

I’ve thought a lot about that since.  In these difficult economic times, we feel trapped.  Everyone needs their job.  Everyone is afraid of losing health insurance and car insurance and their homes….So much.   Yesterday as I walked through Barnes and Noble I passed a book that I just caught out of the corner of my eye.  I didn’t stop so I do not know the exact title but it was something like “Living the Simple Life”.  I talk a lot about the times when I grew up.  The fond memories I had, the sense of community.  I realize now that I was a child and most likely was sheltered from the difficulty of just ‘living’.  I also know that living a “simple” life may mean a great deal of physical work.  We grew a garden, we canned fruit, preserves, vegetables – the whole deal.  I say ‘we’ but it was really our parents and grandparents.  We did get involved in the picking, peeling, stringing and snapping, but somehow it did not seem like work to me.

I have pondered a lot about how this jumble of childhood memories and current day crisis impacts my little life.  I know there is beauty in every day.  I know we spend too much time worrying about the job that is simply supposed to sustain us.  I know with cell phones and laptops, many of us are working 24 x 7.  If we give so much of ourselves away that we cannot have time to breathe and enjoy the simple pleasures, why do we do it?  Fear?  Recognition?  I’m honestly not really sure.

For me, I’m thinking about how we should all be choosing where we are going.  We should be able to go to the train station, look at the departure schedule and decide how much we are willing to invest for the destination we are seeking.  We should also be choosing the companions that we travel with.

I’m breathing, contemplating and imagining what might be happening on another train.  Wondering if more people laugh.  Wondering if people are nicer to each other.  Yes, it may indeed be time to step off this train and believe that some better destination awaits me.