Some people say love makes the world go ‘round. Others claim it’s money that keeps this old globe spinning.
But the simple fact is that living in the world today usually means feeling like we’ve got to sacrifice one for the other. We can either get out there and hustle to keep a roof over our family’s head and clothes on their backs; or we can blow off the rat race and actually spend our time with the people we love.
The fact is, though, it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. You can still make a living and enjoy life with the people you’re living for. It’s just a matter of learning how to prioritise.
Work? Life? Balance?
No doubt about it. Adulting is hard. And studies show that Americans are having an increasingly rough go at it. With the proliferation of mobile technologies and productivity apps that pretty much allow you to carry your office with you wherever you go, the traditional 40-hour workweek is becoming a thing of the past.
But this mounting pressure to be always on the job is wreaking havoc on our personal relationships. Studies show that more than half of Americans say they have missed important family events because of work. And 37% go so far as to say they feel less engaged with their loved ones because of their job.
The simple fact is that you just can’t be “always on” the job and not expect something to suffer. If it’s not your relationships then it’s going to be your health. And if it’s not your health, then it’s going to be your work performance.
That’s why for the sake of home, health, and work, you have to start establishing healthy boundaries between your work and home life. You might love your work. You might have an amazing employer and super-terrific colleagues.
Their kindness, talent, and enthusiasm for the work just might make you feel guilty for establishing, and enforcing, the boundaries you need to establish a healthy work/life balance. They might, in other words, be the “Jasper” in your own life.
But a work environment doesn’t have to function on intimidation or coercion to still be unhealthy, and even subtly abusive. The onus is on you to recognise when you’re being manipulated, consciously or unconsciously, and to stop it.
If you are to build and maintain the kind of relationships you and your loved ones deserve, then you have to draw the line in the sand. Make it clear that your work time is your work time, but your family time is also your family time, and never the twain shall meet.
Love to Love You, Baby
Of course, once you’ve learned to establish those boundaries and strike that essential work/life balance, that doesn’t mean everything’s automatically going to be all peaches and sunshine in your relationships. Love is a verb, not a noun.
And sometimes loving your loved ones takes work, plain and simple. You might be a dyed-in-the-wool progressive who comes from a family of (gasp!) red-state Republicans.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to consign yourself to only seeing your kin at weddings and funerals. You don’t have to share family dinner by Zoom just so you can hit the mute button when the table talk gets too political.
You can eschew the politics but still fiercely, fervently, and forever love the person. But it takes effort to ensure that politics don’t infringe on your relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to hide or compromise on your values.
It means, however, that you and your loved one must agree that your relationship is even more important than your politics. And you have to agree that no one is expected to give up the one to have the other. Instead, focus on your common values, which are probably far more plentiful than you realise if you’re just thinking about your differences. And where you disagree, well, let it lie.
So far as we know, no Conservative (right wing) has ever burst into flames upon entering the home of a Liberal (left wing), or vice versa.
The truth is, though, that if you’re looking to deepen and strengthen your relationships, then talking about things that are most meaningful to you is the perfect way to do that. That might involve politics, but if it’s too sensitive a topic, there are endless other important things to share.
What matters is spending time and having the courage to get real. It also means having the patience and taking care to listen. After all, how can you love someone well and deeply if you don’t know them well and deeply?
The Kids Are Alright (Right?)
As you focus on prioritizing your relationships, don’t forget the kids in your life. Teenagers, in particular, can feel about as lovable as a prickly cactus. But just because your surly and snarling teen acts like they don’t need or want you, don’t fall for it.
Chances are, they need you more than ever. They just don’t know how to admit it. After all, no matter how we might romanticise our teen years in your memories, adolescence, in truth, is brutal. And kids don’t have the depth of experience or the coping skills to regulate their emotions, which can leave their relationships, with friends and family, teachers and mentos, in tatters.
They need the adults in their lives to model patience and resilience, to help establish healthy routines and productive diversions. In this way, they learn not only to nurture their own relationships but also to turn to their loved ones when times get tough, rather than turning away.
Life is long and can be tough. None of us is getting out alive, after all. But the people in our lives make it all worthwhile. And yet far too often, we feel that our lives are too busy, our pressures too great, to make our loved ones a priority. But with clear boundaries and a bit of effort, you can show your dear ones how much you love them by keeping them at the top of your priority list.
Do you struggle with your work/life balance? Is it hard to find commonalities with your family? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.
Adrian is a writer and adventurer living in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. Read her work here.