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Don't confuse having a career with having a life

I want to talk about the idea of achieving ‘work life balance’, or harmony as I prefer to call it. While researching for this piece, I stumbled across this fantastic quote from Heather Schuck, which sums it up beautifully.

“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”

Heather Schuck, The Working Mom Manifesto

Time for a career break

My plan early in 2018 was to take a career break. To take time out to focus on our family and our lives, to create space for making memories and actually being present with each other. Rather than always rushing from one thing to the next.

The idea was to get back into work in February 2019. But here I am writing this, working for Sprout (from my local café today). My plan changed but the result is the same and I couldn’t be happier.

Embracing flexibility 

An opportunity came along that seemed too good to miss. Interesting and meaningful work that was truly innovative in a market where everyone talks about being unique. Working with awesome, down-to-earth people with passion and drive by the bucket load.

I was taken with the idea of being part of that and contributing to New Zealand’s scaling businesses and workforce.

What I have since come to realise is that the issue wasn’t having a job, it was having the right job for the right business. I needed a business that embraced flexibility and balance, and a role that truly fits around my life; the hours, the locations and how I work. Isn’t that the way it should be? It seems obvious, but so many businesses and industries have become so attached to the 9-5 way of working.

How work life harmony works

I’m 10 weeks into my role at Sprout. I’ve worked from home some days, from our two Auckland Hubs (Takapuna or Ponsonby) and from a few of my favourite local cafés.

On some days I’ve not worked during ‘office hours’ as I wanted to go to watch my kid’s school athletics and help with their Christmas Fayre. I did a few urgent bits remotely and once the kids were tucked up in bed I logged on and had time to focus properly. 

Being able to do the kids drop off and pick up, walk the dog so she doesn’t dig up the garden and all the other bits that come with being the COO of our home seems like I have hit the jackpot!

Find your balance

As Hilary Clinton said, ‘Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.’ Find balance and a company that supports that, you will be happier, more productive, and more successful in all areas of your life. 

I’m not sure I can put into words the gratitude for being in the position I am in, but I’m trying to let it show through my work and that’s my way of saying thank you. Giving people the opportunity to work, live and play in a way that suits them does not just bring benefits to the person, but to the business they work for. Lower risk of burnout, higher engagement, higher job satisfaction, and long term sustainable performance. 

Sprout helps leaders overcome the core challenges of scaling businesses; hiring the right people, building an engaged culture, and raising leadership capability as the business grows. Reach out to the Sprout team if you want to create more balance in your business. 

Written by Gaynor Topham
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