Friday, September 19, 2008

Mixed emotions on the edge of the work-life balance

I don't think work-life balance is a very good term. It assumes that they're two separate things. Like a person's "work" is just what they do to pay for what they do in their "life." But for many the two are indistinguishable. What we do for work makes up a big part of what our life is about. There are certainly people who are content to sit around and do nothing, but I could never stand to do that for too long. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to relax and recharge the batteries, but I prefer to be doing something valuable most of the time (even if that just means going out and flying a kite).

I guess at the other end is the life that's constantly filled with constructive activities. These aren't necessarily part of a job or a career, but they require effort. So maybe a better term would be the relax-effort balance. Too much effort, and you burn out. Too much relaxation and you feel like a worthless slug (or maybe that's just me). I'm sure it's different for everyone and maybe it's like working out where you need to train yourself to become more effort-full, but that's another discussion.

My point is that there's a sweet spot, right in between the two. When you're in it, it's great and things just seem to click. For the past two or three weeks I've been in that general vicinity. With classes, the AIM presidency at Daniels, a part-time internship, and web development contracting it would be hard to imagine that I wasn't. My main problem is that usually I start on the boredom side of things, load things up on my plate that have lengthy commitments, and then suddenly find myself shooting past the sweet spot right into crazy-stressful land.

Especially on the stressful side of things I've seen my emotions spiking from happy to angry to morose and back to happy. For example, on Wednesday, I organized a meeting with AIM, got praised at my internship for some good data analysis, then went to an interesting class, and finished the day by making progress on a contracting gig. All-in-all I was happy when I went to sleep that night. But the next day, with nothing scheduled I didn't want to get up, I didn't feel like doing anything, I got some bad news about some upcoming costs I would have to pay and I was altogether feeling down.

Even this weekend, as I got to spend time with my girlfriend, I felt bad because I had so much work to do and bills making me feel like I couldn't afford to do anything even if I had the time. I think next month will be better and all this work will start paying off, but until then, I expect life to feel a bit like a roller coaster...I just hope it's a fun one.

No comments:

Post a Comment