The Importance of Work-Life Balance: A Scary and Inspiring True Story
Having recently chatted with a very intense and driven ASU Graduate student, I was reminded of a story a remarkable young woman told me about 4 years ago. My memory being admittedly imperfect, some of the finer details of my recounting may not be accurate. But the gist of the story, as told to me, is true. And as the title suggests, it can hopefully serve as a wake-up call to those who live to work.
Sadly, this must be aimed mainly at young women, as their path forward in the corporate world is so clearly more difficult. But the message is true for all, including the not quite so young anymore…
Living to Work
I can’t remember this amazing woman’s name, so I’ll call her Sandy.
Sandy is a brilliant woman who was obviously superb at her job. By the age of 28, she had risen to a C-Suite position at a large company in her native Canada.
To achieve and retain this position, she felt that she needed to work far harder than her male counterparts. So she worked 16 to 20 hours daily, and never even took off a day at the weekend.
Before she turned 30, this drive caused her to have a life-threatening stroke.
She spent a long time in hospital, and further months recuperating at home.
To their credit, Sandy’s employers kept her job open for her and offered her both fewer responsibilities and more help so that she could work more normal hours.
But I suppose Sandy knew herself. She found a senior management role at a far smaller company, and was enjoying a normal work-life balance.
When I met her, she was on the first leg of a solo journey following her beloved Toronto Blue Jays hockey team to two or three away games. Phoenix was the first.
Upon her recovery, she had set the goal of seeing her team play at every hockey stadium in North America. She did this by taking 2 or 3 trips each season, each to 2 or 3 stadiums.
Living Life and Work-Life Balance
I didn’t ask her about whether she had found love. It didn’t seem appropriate. But here was a woman whose drive almost saw her not reach 30. And she was so inspiring! She said she was writing her memoir. I don’t know if she ever completed it. But she was determined to live life to the fullest. Work was still important to her, but she had concluded that it wasn’t worth dying for, and she wasn’t going to go to her grave without experiencing joy.
The Moral of The Story
Do I really need to spell it out? I think not. So I’ll just say this…
Live and love your life. Learn what makes you smile and laugh, if these things don’t come naturally to you. You’re unlikely to achieve your work goals from beyond the grave unless you are in the arts or sciences. And even then, it’s just not worth killing yourself.
You may also want to read: The Challenges Of Working and Learning From Home [Interactive Q&A]
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