Monday, 18 January 2010

The eternal balancing act

I have always been inclined to bite off more than I can chew.  Having too much to do if you get it right is energising and exciting and gives your life zip and zoom.  Having too much to do if you get it wrong is overwhelming and exhausting and makes you want to hide in the lavatories and have a quiet weep.  Mostly I used to get it right.  Then for a few years I tried to do way too much and had a constant battle to keep any kind of balance between my work and my family life and found that niceties like a social life and time for myself disappeared out the window.  Now having given up my job I supposedly have all the time in the world.

This is never the case of course.  You just do lots more of the things that you choose to do, and if you are a person with a tendency to load a lot on your plate, you carry on doing that, just different and perhaps more self indulgent things.  Now, however, I think I should admit that maybe I ought to be getting to the end of my glorious time off phase and looking to find some means of making a financial contribution again.  And glorious although my gardening, reading, growing things, cooking, eating, walking and making time for friends and family has been, there is a part of me that is quite excited by the idea of using my business brain again. 

So this is just a reminder to myself of all the things I want to have time for before I rush into juggling too many balls in the air again:

I want to have time for my family - my parents, my husband, my children and my little grandson ("No Grandma, I am big now") and my new baby grandson.  I want to have time for friends who for so many years were crammed into the rag ends of my life while I whizzed around from pillar to post.  I want to have time for my garden so that it feels a pleasure, not another guilt inducing, never ending task.  I want time to wander and walk and do my Welsh and my yoga and learn to knit a pair of socks in the round (thank you Pomona for the inspiration).

So I need to do the next stage carefully, consciously, ensuring I can do a good job of whatever I take on and protect my oh so hard won personal time.  Slowly, carefully, one step at a time, fighting my own tendency to want to do everything and to take on all the interesting things that are possibilities.  It is exciting.  It is surprisingly daunting.

Wish me luck.

21 comments:

  1. I wish you the best of luck in finding your personal balance. I hope it includes every single thing for which you wish you had time.

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  2. Hi Elizabeth - wow, this one took me by surprise. I have to be honest and tell you that over the past months I've often thought of you and considered letting all the work go to stay home and live the life I'd really like to live. It's a dream - my contribution is important, and like you I tend to fill whatever hours there are, working or at home. I know if I gave it all up I'd just be sitting on more boards and volunteering on more committees. I hope you're able to maintain that precious balance - that the work part of your life won't consume all the other good things. I hope you'll be able to make that contribution while staying close to home. I'll be thinking of you and hanging around to hear how it all goes. Best of luck!

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  3. Best of luck in trying to juggle it all, as a long time, sort of retired farmers wife things never seem to work out the way you thought they might. Just find a bit of time for yourself.

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  4. I do know what you mean about the people who always fill their time - I am one too - and I hope you find the balance you want Elizabeth. It is so hard when you have so many interests that are dear to you and especially if you need them to be a part of your life in order to thrive, but that surely makes for a fulfilled life I think. Good luck in your quest x

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  5. It is amazing that retirement can keep us so busy.
    Although mine has been forced by illness, I am amazed that the days seem to go by so quickly and so little seems to get achieved. Better weather will make a heap of difference.
    Hoping you will find things that you really want to do and that you can achieve.

    Nuts in May

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  6. Sounds like you're just about ready. I have retired friends who are really enjoying their new self-regulated work lives after taking some time off to recover from years of overwork, but I can see the demands on them gradually increasing, and they haven't quite spotted that yet.

    If you do go back to some form of work, make sure you have a fiercely honest friend or supporter who will keep an eye on you and who will be heard when they say you're on the point of doing too much! Getting the balance right isn't easy without such support.

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  7. Oooh, I always do too much too then spend my time racing round being cross with myself for not getting it done. Do keep some time back for yourself when you are thinking about that financial contribution.

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  8. Exciting. Do wish you all luck. Hope you find something suitable.

    I find that time expands and contracts to fit the work available.
    Usually I am over busy. But it is amazing what can be done in a day if one doesn't faff about in meetings.

    I tend to view life as waiting for a bus that never arrives. How twenty minutes in the cold with nothing to do can seem like an aeon.

    The problem is not having too much to do; the problem is how to fill the oceans of time that hangs in centuries around us.

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  9. Somehow with your blog posts you always hit the nail directly on the head. I look forward to your instructions [ please] as to how to get the balance right... as I think we are in need of pointers.

    I wish you such luck, and look forward to your next instalment.

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  10. You have been firing out posts faster than I can read and comment! Beautifully thought out and communicated as always too. I wish you well in whatever you decide to do in addition to 'real life' - hopefully your work will be the fun extra to your life now, rather than life being an add-on to work as I'm guessing it might have felt at times before. Good luck! :-)

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  11. Alas the thing is one never seems to be aware one has bitten off to much until one is in the middle of trying to juggle it all! Good luck though!

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  12. Ah balance! Is it January that makes us contemplative? What a beautifully written and thought out post, echoing, as so often with your posts, the very things turning over in my mind. Unlike you though I never feel I quite managed it like I'd planned it!
    Good luck in the discovering.

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  13. And it needs discipline Elizabeth, as I have found out. I am a similar person to you - I want to do everything and it is often quite hard to keep all the balls in the air, I agree. I thank goodness for the farmer, who keeps my feet on the ground and who needs regular healthy meals as he works hard - that makes me cook lunch at a given time everyday and I have to work round it - and that is good for me as I don't have the opportunity to get carried away with any project.

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  14. OK - so what's on the agenda then? You wouldnt have written that blog unless you have got it all pretty well mapped out already, you just like to sort of warn us a bit first...take care

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  15. Oh Christ! Is there a real world out there? I had completely forgotten that. Hmmm... not sure I'll be contributing much for a while.

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  16. Good luck with whatever venture you have in mind Elizabeth and I hope that you make the choices that are right for you and your family :)

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  17. I am feeling very behindhand with responding! Hope you will forgive me. This is being a rather frantic week.
    Thank you all for your good wishes. Yes, I do have something in mind. Just a bit too early to say yet!

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  18. I wish you the best of luck! What is it you're intending to do, pray tell?

    I have to admit, as a person who is probably never going to be able to retire (I'll die in the traces, most likely), the thought of just being able to live and do what I really want to do makes me weepy with longing.

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  19. Balance. It's a hard thing to find sometimes, especially if you're a 'doer'.
    Beautifully written post, thank you.

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  20. You always hit the nail of the head for me Elizabeth and this post is no exception. Now I'm not working, I find time vanishes into a black hole and I have no idea how I used to fit so much into my life. Good luck with finding the balance, and wish me luck too!

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