When I brought the rental car back after a six day work trip, the odometer read 1621 miles. It’s been a long week, but I’m actually in a better mood than I have been in awhile. I’m wrapping up some loose ends, taking care of business, and extracting myself from a toxic work situation with diplomacy and tact. And I’m taking a day off to recharge and recover. Weekend plans include getting a new suit for a job interview next week, rehab on some soft tissue that’s misbehaving, working out with a good friend, pumpkin patch and corn maze, kids soccer games, apple picking, wine making (pineapple this time), camping in the living room (complete with tent), and a scheduled hangout with a good friend that is long overdue. Good times all around.
My wife and kids are happy I’m finally home, and sometimes it really is “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” No one will accuse me of having my priorities out of whack. I was talking with one of my work mates on the drive back about marriages that fall apart or drift apart due to work. We know of several high work achievers that let their work-family balance get pretty far out of line, with the end goal in their world being very different than mine. My world is a world of “enough.” Enough financial stability, enough things, enough stability. Working longer hours to have more of those things usually results in having less. You’re constantly chasing something that cannot be achieved, instead of enjoying what you already have.
My wife puts more emphasis on salary than me, as she sees that as a reflection on her value as a person or employee. Research has shown that once you meet a salary that allows you to have the basic necessities (house, food, clothing for example) and enough to support supplemental endeavors (like some sort of vacation, entertainment, and “toys”), having MORE does not equate to more happiness. Maybe you could go on “nicer” vacations, or have more toys, or a more expensive car, but in the grand scheme of things a $120,000 a year income isn’t that different than $75,000 – both can be Enough if you don’t overextend yourself.
In the past, I’ve occasionally changed jobs by choice to make less money when the future opportunity or fit or position was better than the one I had. And that has ALWAYS been the right decision. As I settled into those situations, I was promoted quickly and my earnings became higher than the position I left. But even if that hadn’t been the case, it still would have been right for me simply for the increase in skills, keeping things fresh in motivation, or other benefits Position B offered over Position A. As Holly and I discussed the salary range of the upcoming position I’m interviewing for, in her mind, it isn’t worth me leaving my current job (that has become stagnant, and I’m afraid of being pigeon-holed in) for a new one unless I’m making more money. I disagree on that point, recognizing that we have Enough right now, we would have Enough whether I make $10,000 less or $10,000 more, and also recognizing happiness or worth cannot be defined by money alone.
I liked this blog post from a CEO who resigned due to life imbalance, choosing family and fulfilling work over the big paycheck. Resigning, he wrote:
I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.
I know that things always work out in my life. To me, it’s not an IF statement, but a fundamental truth. Holly feels the same way. We are convinced of this fact, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have ups and downs. Anxiety and stress. But mostly we have Love, Happiness, and Abundance. As I come up for air after a brief period of insanity, I know things are always moving in the right direction, even if we don’t know how or why. And despite the fact that stressful times often kill motivation for pursuit of dreams and implementation of creative ideas, we (I) need to continue to fight for those things one small step at a time. Because one week of not eating well or exercising or [insert life goal or dream here] may not be a big deal, but one week often becomes one month, which spirals. And before you know it, you haven’t played guitar or painted or written anything in 2 years. Do those small things that keep you moving in the right direction, even if you don’t really feel like it, and enjoy the process, celebrating the small victories along the way. Happy Friday!