I have this problem. I love what I do for a living. I have always known that I wanted to be a writer, and now that I’m doing it successfully, I couldn’t be happier. I really feel fulfilled in my career and I am generally very satisfied in that area of my life. I feel lucky to be doing what I love and getting paid for it. Really, really lucky.
And also, part of what I do is help other freelance writers to succeed. That’s almost as awesome as actually getting paid to do what I love. A lot of people have helped me along the way in my career (and many still do) so paying it forward feels good to me, and really, is probably part of the reason for my success. (Since you get what you put out there back and all.)
Did I mention that I love what I do? I really do. A lot.
So much, in fact, that I very often work seven days a week, and I don’t mind a bit. Not even a little. I am very passionate about my work and I often run on continuous creative bursts of energy.
You feel me, right? I’ll get an idea and I’ll be just absolutely driven to bring it to fruition, and I can’t stop until it’s done. It’s what I like to call inspired action.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that in being so focused on my work, I have no time to just relax. Between working and taking care of my wonderful family, it’s really easy to put off anything that could be officially classified as fun. (And again, being the writing nerd that I am, I don’t even notice sometimes.) I honestly can’t remember going out with my girlfriends for a night on the town in…several years. Sad, I know.
This weekend, I was on a couple of hot deadlines. I had things that needed to be done by Sunday night. Big things. And, if I’m being honest, I could have probably finished all of my important stuff on Saturday, and then I could have taken Sunday off and could have just relaxed with my family that day.
So why didn’t I do that?
Because, as I was working on Saturday, I was suddenly hit with a flash of inspiration that caused me to create a welcome/about video for one of the WM Network websites (The WM Freelance Writers Connection–I know, you’re shocked.) The video turned out ok, I think, but did you know that it can take two or three hours to make an almost four minute video? Yep, it’s true.
So, while I did manage to get some of my “real work” that was due on Sunday done on Saturday, I did not finish all of it. So, when my husband suggested on Sunday that we take the kids to the park to feed the ducks and then out to eat, I felt a little anxious. We do things like this pretty often, but this week, I had so much to do and I just didn’t think I had the time to do it.
At first, I told him I couldn’t go, but that went over like a lead balloon. He said that I shouldn’t work seven days a week–that everyone needs a day off sometimes. (That, and he didn’t want to try to wrangle three kids at the duck pond all by himself.)
I tried to reason with him. I love what I’m doing, so my work doesn’t feel like work, I explained.
He stood firm, and insisted that I come out with the family. Of course, I realized that he was right…eventually…and we all went to the park and fed the ducks and stopped and had dinner afterward.
We had a great time. And, believe it or not, I only thought about all the work awaiting me once or twice during our adventure. But in addition to enjoying the time with my favorite people in the whole wide world and watching my kids faces light up when the ducks and geese ate the bread they threw out, I thought about something else…something big.
I decided my husband was right (gasp!)–maybe I needed to take a day off. In fact, maybe I needed to take at least one scheduled day off each week. Now, don’t get me wrong–I spend time with my family every day.
But, while we have fun and love one another like no one’s business, I work all day when they’re at school and work, and then a lot of times in the evenings after dinner and late into the night–basically, I work anytime I’m not spending with the family. I hardly even watch TV and rarely get the chance to read for pleasure, let alone any other type of non-Mom, non-wife or non-writer activities.
So, I decided as we walked in the park that it was time to rethink that strategy. While I’m not unhappy with my crazy work habits, I am definitely a bit out of balance. I have to have time to renew my spirit, refresh myself–and time to have fun. Fun that is unrelated to writing.
“From now on,” I declared to my family as I stopped walking to emphasize my point, “I am taking Sundays off!”
While I expected a surprised and enthusiastic cheer to burst forth from my family, the likes of which would be heard all over town, I got more of a subdued response.
“Cool,” one of them said.
“Sounds good,” said another.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said a particularly pessimistic member.
“Come on, Mommy, give me more bread so I can feed the ducks!” said the smallest one.
So, regardless of my family’s less than epic reaction, that’s my plan, at least the first step of it. I am officially (gulp) taking Sundays off. And, I think, it just might be time to schedule one of those girls’ nights out…you know, before I forget what my friends look like.
How about you? Do you find yourself working or playing too much? How do you find balance? Tell me in the comments!