It’s strange, this world we live in.
You’d think work should go around your life — not the other way around.
But too many of us find ourselves slaves to the workday, struggling to fit in exercise or relationships or self-improvement wherever we can. Rather than putting our priorities first, we fit them in around work. (Click to tweet this idea.)
Sometimes this is a choice. Sometimes we love our work so much that we want to put it first.
Other times though, it becomes an obligation. An expectation. And this seems to be especially true in the United States, where the standard work week is no longer 40 hours, but pushing 50 or 60 hours. Too often, employees are expected to put work before themselves.
This concept — the idea of putting your life before your work, rather than the other way around — is exactly why I’ve chosen a non-traditional career. I want the flexibility to pursue what’s important to me and abide by a schedule that makes me feel healthy, and building my own business seems to be the best way to accomplish that.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that when you have your own business, you don’t work incredibly hard. I’ve been working too many hours lately, chugging my way through a busy period. Yet despite that workload, I was able to work from Munich last week to be close to my boyfriend, a choice I might not have been able to make if my boss had required I show my face at the office.
It’s also a constant struggle for me to turn off; when you create your own framework for making a living, it’s easy to put pressure on yourself — to earn more money or launch another product or answer just one more email. There’s always more you can do to succeed, and since your success depends solely on your actions, not your employer’s, work can intrude on life even though you have the option to say no.
This is my biggest challenge right now: knowing what’s enough and learning to say no, so my life can take priority over my work. This is why I began my business to begin with, but it’s easy to lose sight of your true goals when you experience professional success. Sometimes the biggest challenge isn’t reaching those goals, but keeping them in focus.
In a perfect world, more employers would embrace the idea of putting life before work; after all, that translates to better employees over the long run. If your employer fosters that culture, you’ve struck gold!
Yet the reality is that while employers could use digital tools to allow employees to live better lives, it’s still not the norm. Until we make this shift as a society, our best bet is often to create our own framework, our own paycheck, our own job.
How do you create a lifestyle where your work goes around your priorities, rather than the other way around?