I Work Most Of The Time And I Like It
As I’ve often said on this blog I only work a few hours a day, so what’s all this about ‘working all the time’ well I consider myself to have 3 main jobs in life. In no particular order these jobs are to earn a living, to live well and to make a difference in the world. These three jobs are all closely related and more so since I became ill. All three require sustained effort, discipline and a willingness to do things I don’t want to do, or things I want to do at times that I don’t – they all have elements of play, but they are all work.
Lets look at each of the three jobs in turn.
To Earn A Living
This is an important necessity right now, but I’m fortunate that I earn enough to remove money as a constrain to living well and because my job is all about making a difference to the millions of people who use the services that I work on. I work hard to ensure that I enjoy my work, by improving my productivity, buying or ‘acquiring’ the best gear, working in the most productive places and with the most effective and uplifting people. Even though I don’t spend much time sitting at a desk, or hanging on the end of a conference call I consume a lot of work related information via podcasts, audio books and ebooks/blogs while I’m moving and I write a lot from relaxing locations life coffee shops.
Working only a few hours a day is surprisingly hard work, it means saying no to things I would like to do, missing important meetings that I would like to influence, it means letting things fail that I know I could fix them, it means sacrificing my career and choosing to help make others successful instead. I’ve needed to build a lot of mental resilience to cope with this.
Much of the time that I don’t spend working, I invest in living well, to improve my health and to make sure that every one of the few hours that I do work counts. So I spend a lot of time moving slowly (cycling, swimming and walking) I stretch everyday, do strength exercises a few times a week. I meditate, keep mindful, and spend a lot of time with interesting people. I read a lot, listen to audio books and podcasts and I write every day. I eat well, typically 8 servings of veg and 4 of fruit with eggs, meat and a little dairy too.
It’s hard to keep doing all this stuff when I’m hurting all over, to dig deep and find the discipline to do the right thing when I want to curl up on the sofa feeling sorry for myself, to find useful things to do when my brain is fogged up and I just want to sleep. Mine is an ‘invisible illness’ so people don’t understand why I can’t work normally, they don’t see the effort that it takes to walk without limping to not use walking sticks or wince when I use my arms. Earning a living requires mental resilience, living well does too.
Make A Difference
At the core of who I am is a need to make a difference in the world, to leave it a better place than I found it, to help those less fortunate than myself. My work provides a big opportunity to do this, to improve people’s enjoyment at work, increase their productivity, improve the effectiveness of teams, to create workplaces that are fun and designed for effortless productivity. Living well for me means living as simply and sustainably as possible, being kind and helpful, respecting the environment, not dropping litter, eating eggs, dairy and meat from humanely treated animals. Giving to charities every day is a great way to remind myself just how lucky I am.
I need to earn to take care of my family, to provide the resources I need to live well and make a difference, but if I work too long I don’t have the time and energy needed to invest in living well, which means my health and ultimately my paid work suffers. If I spend too much time ‘living well’ though I won’t be useful enough to my employer to keep a job, and then I loose many opportunities to make a difference. It’s a complex interplay, each of the three facets of my work needing to be kept in balance. When I do achieve that balance though it’s a good life.
I draw little distinction between these three areas, every day of my life I will try and work on all three facets of my working life. If I can combine all three, all the better.
The photo is of one of my favourite workplaces, Caffe Nero in Blackpool. I probably average about 2 hours a day in Caffe Nero, reading and writing.