By Jennifer Bertrand
Ah, the elusive work-life balance. It is what many of us hold true as the highest standard of living. Have a satisfying career, but also be sure to enjoy yourself outside of work. Make the most of your leisure time by spending it with family, friends, and by doing the things that excite you most. Learn a new language, play an instrument, read the book you’ve been putting off for months, go for a long meandering walk around town, meet a friend for coffee; just do something that isn’t work-related. Your body and mind will thank you.
We all objectively understand the benefits of leisure. We know that taking the time to engage in our favourite activities relaxes, stimulates, empowers and energizes us. However actually finding the time in our fast-paced, bustling society to disconnect from work and truly immerse ourselves in recreational activities is easier said than done. How often do you find yourself checking your social media feed when you are having dinner with friends? Or answering emails at midnight? Or working on that big proposal while you are on vacation with your family? Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with spending some extra time on your job outside of work. And there are many people who don’t work traditional 9 – 5 jobs, so answering an email at 2 a.m. isn’t abnormal. HOWEVER, there is a huge difference between being passionate about your job and being so devoted to it that is starts to resemble an addiction.
We know all about hard work here at VDC, but we are also big proponents of knowing when to slow down, close the laptop and have some fun. Personally, I enjoy pouring myself a glass of wine and reading the latest Jillian Tamaki graphic novel. As the working mother of a very rambunctious 2 year old, I relish those quiet moments where I can sit down with a good book. Some of you may agree with my idea of a good time, while others seek out slightly grander recreational pursuits. Someone who is really excelling at this work-life balance thing is former Marconi Communications and Rainford Group leader, Barry Houghton. Houghton, recently profiled in Boat International, made a name for himself through his multi-decade career in the telecommunications industry, has spent the last 17 years owning and racing yachts throughout the world.
Prior to devoting his time to the sea, Houghton was like most of us: tired and overworked. A self-proclaimed workaholic, Houghton sought to bring balance to his life by fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning a boat (or four!) When the chance to sell his company presented itself, Houghton leapt at the opportunity, excited by the prospect of having time to devote himself to a personal project. He purchased a yacht, only to realize that his true passion was to design and build one from scratch. The desire to create would manifest itself in three bespoke yachts that would go on to race around the world.
Now most of us don’t have the resources to spend on luxury yacht racing, but the idea behind this resonates with all of us trying to get a handle on the work-life balance. We are all trying to make our time on this planet meaningful; where we can have a fulfilling career AND a purposeful life. No one wants to be on their deathbed thinking ‘I wish I had spent more time doing [blank] thing that I loved’. So be sure to enjoy yourself! Take 2 hours out of your day and go see the latest Marvel superhero movie! Start working on the novel you’ve always been meaning to write! Sing silly songs with your kid! Whatever it is, do it! You won’t regret it. And you know what? Work will be there when you get back.
Posted March 18, 2016.