As someone who dreams of a life with so much more, I often fall into the trap that if I do more, I’ll feel more joy, and get more out of life. But somehow that math just isn’t adding up. The more I do, the more tired I feel, the less time I have to enjoy what matters, and the more I realize that some of my goals are at odds with what I truly want.
As I look back at the life I’ve created here in Texas I worry I’ve given up some hobbies and opportunities to socialize, because I was stuck at work. Back in 2014 I was too busy because it was my first year in the position and there was so much to learn. This meant that I would plan to attend a dance class and when 7pm came around I was still working. When the weekend rolled around, I was too tired because I was running Saturday tutorials. So I was working six days a week and needed my Sundays to recover. In 2015, I was more accustomed to the job, but added grad school into the equation. So, that meant no socializing on weekends because I was busy working on that 4.0. Finally in 2016 I graduated, and now that I was comfortable in my role, I was good to go. EXCEPT that as soon as 2017 hit, I was in a new environment and assumed additional roles, so there goes that learning process and of course there was the return of the Saturday tutorials.
As a result of constantly giving up those things that bring me joy, one of my MUSTS is to find work that allows me more flexibility. I want to work when it’s most convenient for me and don’t want to feel like I’m always neglecting activities I enjoy. I mean, is it crazy to want to attend a dance class at 7 pm when I went into work at 7 am that morning. Forget the weekdays, how about attending a Saturday morning yoga class or sleeping in! None of it was possible with my current job.
So I’ve had enough of this work vs. life battle and work always come out winning. The reality that flexibility was my biggest priority in the next position became real about three weeks ago. I received a phone call regarding a position my friend, and former teacher I coached, recommended me for. The original job title was director of literacy; who would oversee the creation of the curriculum for the school district and train principals on its implementation. This would be a huge step up in my career. In the following weeks, I conversed with the top people in the company, joined them for dinner and helped them review a literacy program of interest. However, since I was first approached about the job I made it clear that I would be willing to do some contract work, but did not feel I could commit to being in the office more than once to twice a week. The job was an hour drive away and my current forty minute commute was already killing me. Most recently the company reached out to me, via phone call, where they made a final attempt to convince me to reconsider taking the original job title. She said, “I wasn’t sure if I told you that the starting salary is $89,000 and goes up to $99,000 depending on experience. I don’t know if that’s something that interest you?” I couldn’t believe it, she was practically begging me to take the job and offering me a $30,000 raise on top of it. But without hesitation I responded confidently in saying that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the work long-term, I knew I needed a flexible schedule that the role just didn’t allow for. I stated I was excited to support them, but couldn’t do the commute more than two days a week and wasn’t willing to uproot my life to be in the area, to only leave a year later because I felt confined.
This was a huge opportunity and one that I would have probably jumped all over just a year ago. But when I think about what would make me happiest now, it’s not a lot of money. I mean yeah the money would be great for a while, but what really matters to me is having time to enjoy life. For example, getting home with enough time and energy to take Charlie to the dog park a few days a week, having enough time to fix a proper meal for dinner instead of cereal, or making it to the occasional happy hour. My goal is to work from anywhere AND make great money. So despite it being a giant leap for my financial goals, my overall quality of life would continue to suffer. Therefore, work-life balance is number one right now.
By moving further out of a school/district I’m saying good-bye to the 5 am alarms and working until 9 pm. Yup that’s right; Just yesterday I worked until 9 pm after going in at 7:15 that morning (Testing time is the worst!). I’m done with that and the business that the field of education has become.
I know that making time for family, friends, hobbies, and rejuvenation in between work is of utmost importance. Thus, the outcome I seek is a new position that allows for flexibility in my schedule. Better work hours comes first and foremost; even before an attractive pay raise.
Often when setting life goals we find that they are at odds with each other. We are constantly trading one thing for another. Thus it is essential to determine which goal you are focusing on at different stages in your life. While I may be willing to trade my time for money at some point, right now I choose to focus on enjoying hobbies, strengthening relationships, and socializing so that I can meet Mr. Right. It’s important to know your outcome and let it drive your decisions. Make sure you keep your priorities a priority as you construct your dream life.
Moving Forward: Can you relate to my story? Are some of your goals at odds with the person you want to be? Identify which goal you are choosing to focus on right now. Will this be the focus for a month, three months, or year? When making this goal a priority, consider what you’ll be giving up in the process. What does it mean for your life now and in the next three to five years?