The personal & professional blog behind Fearless In Training.
Kissing the 9 to 5 goodbye
Remember when people use to work 40 hours a week? When mom & dad would walk in the door and hang up their coats and their workdays along with it? Remember when people couldn't answer email on vacation, much less from a little device that lived in their pocket and kept correspondence coming in all day and night? Those were the days. Or were they? This seems to be an ongoing debate lately. Folks seem to be split pretty evenly between those that wish they could do away with the omnipresent office that technology has created, and other folks that feel that technology gives them the benefits and freedom of working whenever they want and wherever they want.
I grew up in a family of small business owners. My mother has owned and edited her own art publication since I was two, and my father went from owning his own landscaping business to growing his own environmental law practice. All of my grandparents have their own businesses, and my brother has just acquired his license to venture out as an independent carpenter and contractor.
Because of this, the concept of the 9 to 5 was a bit foreign to me as I was growing up. I watched my parents and grandparents work Saturdays and evenings for all of my childhood. Sometimes it frustrated me how my mom's magazine or my dad's casework would take precedence. I didn't understand why they couldn't just set their work aside at 5 PM like it seemed all my friends' parents did.
Because of this, I intentionally sought out a career with a predictable schedule. I thought that a desk job that began and ended the same time each day would give me, and more importantly my son, the kind of stability that I felt my own childhood lacked. Even though it was something that I did with the very best of intentions, it didn't exactly work out the way I thought it would.
The thing is, I am a really passionate person. I have tried my hardest in life to pursue things that I truly love, particularly when it comes to my career. When I entered into the accounting industry, I had no idea how much I would grow to love working and partnering with accountants and bookkeepers. Only more recently have I come to realize why this industry ignites such a huge fire in me. I realized it is because I grew up in a family of small business owners, and I get to work with people every day who are just as passionate as I am at seeing small businesses succeed.
But here is the thing about passion: It is a never ending pursuit. If you truly love what you do, that passion doesn't shut off at 5 PM. I saw this with my parents, as they built their lives and our families around the businesses they loved and had worked so hard at because of they wanted to succeed. With the rise of smartphone technology, and what turned into a regular habit of taking my work laptop home each night, my 9 to 5 job began to stretch into much more of my life, and much more of my time.
I should make one thing clear here: working more than the allotted hours 40 hours is okay from me. I never mind it or even think twice about it because I love what I do. However, as time went on I came to find that there was a major part of the equation that wouldn't work for me and my career: being tied to a desk all day.
I am a hyper active person. I need to move to stay sane. I'm also the parent of a very active toddler that is constantly requiring my life to be flexible. The 9 to 5 is not flexible. In fact, I came to find that what I thought would give me stability in life actually took away from it.
I lived for the weekends, which always flew by in the blitz of grocery shopping, errand running, and anything else I had zero time for during the work week. I lost at least two hours of sleep each day between getting primped and commuting to the office, and I had no flexibility to fit in things that are always popping up for parents like doctors appointments, parent teacher conferences, and karate classes that start at 4:30. On top of that, I found myself always working far beyond the bounds of the 8 hour work day, particularly when I started traveling quite frequently.
In the end, I never thought of changing what I do for work. But I did realize that I needed a change in how I did it. When the opportunity to work remote from home arose, I jumped at the chance, even though I didn't have the slightest idea of how profoundly it would change my life and my happiness.
(my current home office)
I will be transparent here, I still work way more than 40 hours a week. In fact, there are weeks that I might even work double that. But you know what else? From the time I get back not having to get dolled up and drive into work everyday, I also am able to find time to get an extra hour of sleep and workout at least five days a week. When my son has to stay home from school, whether planned or otherwise, I have the flexibility to be home with him and get my work in around his needs. He still goes to school 5 days a week, but I have peace of mind knowing that I can be there whenever he needs me (travel permitting).
There are many people in my life and my family that don't exactly understand what it is that I do. People often think traveling for work is glamorous, and working from home is the ultimate luxury. The truth is, for every trip I've gotten to go somewhere enchanting like New Orleans, I've also been trapped in conference rooms in Kansas City or stuck for 6 hours (or longer) trying to get to Tucson. For every day that I get the luxury of an extra hour of sleep, I have spent at least two days that are 12 hours or longer hiking around a tradeshow in stilettos. So yes, I have gotten to kiss the 9 to 5 goodbye. In reality though, if I was to add up all the hours I spend working, traveling, networking, and engaging in industry, my job would easily be a 7 to 7. And you know what? I wouldn't change it for a second.
I put that kind of time and energy into my work because I love what I do. Not every single second, mind you, but I begin and each day feeling excited and passionate about my work. This passion is a huge factor to why I have found success in this industry, and I continue to pursue it to the fullest. I know how lucky I am to have found a career like this, and even more so a way to work that works for me.
What I want to know is: What works for you? How do you structure your workday? Do you love the 9 to 5 or have you set your work life another way?
Feel free to chime in below in comments or chat with me on twitter.