Work / Life

One of the instructional skills workshop participants I’ve been working with blogged on the topic of work/life balance by saying the following:

“Do we find what we do to make money so onerous that we wish to compartmentalize it away from who we are? Is work the way to make money and life what we use the money for? Is work so strenuous that what we call our life must consist of recovery, recuperation and preparation for the next onslaught of anguish/work?”

These are compelling questions, and I think they say a lot about our workplace and our attitude. I’m not quite sure who I mean here when I say “our”– but I think it might be anyone who works in an industrialized setting.

Where do I stand on this? I’m someone who’s about to take an early retirement and by February of next year (that’s just a few weeks away) I’ll be “free”. I love education and want to continue working in the field and for me, taking the pension offers the chance to be more selective about the work I do. I hate to say it but a lot of my time right now in my instructional designer role is spent nagging because courses have start dates and things need to be in place on time. Contract work (at least the kind I have lined up) is much different.

Overall, once retired I may actually work *more* — and some of that work will be a new focus related to glass. the hobby that I’ve tried to cultivate over the past several years as part of my own “work-life balance.” So my vision is for lots of variety. That too, may be part of the real secret to work/life balance. It seems to me that the workplace benefits when workers have a range of paths and can choose to grow when they’re ready.

And I believe that through social media I’ll be able to continue growing, keeping up with and contributing to the world of education. Contract work is one thing but I will almost certainly want to explore areas that I’m not “contracted” to do. And I’ll have the opportunity. Unencumbered! Willingly!

I think the whole concept is closely related to what Clay Shirky sees when he talks about cognitive surplus.

One of my favourite quotes of Shirky’s

“We have lived in this world where little things are done for love and big things for money. Now we have Wikipedia. Suddenly big things can be done for love.”

(and my son is 19 today…. Happy Birthday to a fresh new grown-up person!)

2 Responses to Work / Life

  1. David Stevenson says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on work life balance. As someone who worked for almost thirty years in an industrial environment, I left voluntarily when work became nothing but a way to pay bills. For many years, I had been fortunate to be involved with the type of work that I really loved (learning and development) in that setting. But when that was gone for good, and morale in the organization dropped into the abyss, it was time to leave. There are so many positive things to explore and I will never regret leaving work that became nothing more than a way to make money.

    It’s wonderful that you are so excited about your new adventures. I know that they will go well for you with the attitude that you have.

    All the best. Kind regards, David

  2. Kim Holland says:

    Thank you for your posts. I found them very thoughtful. I too will have to consider what retirement will mean for me. I have been fortunate in my career to have enjoyed the types of activities that I have participated in. But, there comes a time when we’re seeing a much longer road behind us then in one ahead of us. That recognition that time is limited is a most important lens.

    Have a fantastic retirement and all the best, Kim

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