Sunday, July 22, 2012

Finding Balance

At home in the US, I worked a lot.  When we first moved to Barcelona I did my best to keep up with that same work schedule but alas over time, things have changed.  While I have fewer friends in Barcelona, I find that my social life during the work week is much different than it was at home.  At home, the majority of my friends work and so during the work day, well, I worked... or I would run errands.  We all would live to work, not work to live.  Rarely would I go out for lunch with friends.  Rarely would I spend the day shopping (beyond errands).  Then I would pick up the kids at their schools, spend some time with them, get dinner ready, put them to bed and do some more work.

Since living in Barcelona, I have found that my work week has changed for various reasons.  The first is that I'm now 6 hours ahead.  This has been great because I can take my time in the mornings - go to the gym, go to the grocery store and maybe even the start of a lunch with a friend, all before my clients even come online.  However, the problem with this is that by the time I get home from said lunch, it's close to 4 my time (10AM at home).  Still early in the work day by US standards (by who's clock I run my business), but I'm tired.  I'm at my best early in the morning.  And so a lot of my work has been going to the wayside.  It's not the way I want to run my business and it's time that I make some changes.

When we first moved here I had better focus.  Liam was home with me full time and so my social life was a bit limited.  And I actually made the time to get work done.  It was hard because I only had a few hours a day where he would nap and I could get my work, calls to home and other things done...but I would get work done while he self entertained and I was more likely to stay home when he was with me, especially during the cold rainy winter.  And despite not getting out as much as I would have liked, I loved every moment of him being home with me - it's time I'll never have with him again now that he is in school full time.

But that fall, he went to school and for the first time in 6 years, I was free during the day, totally free.  The kids leave for school at 7:30 and get home at 5.  Suddenly I had all this time where I should have been working but instead, I was socializing.  The majority of my friends here don't work - a change from home.  Yes, I took Spanish classes too, but I didn't do that right off the bat.  Instead I embraced my freedom and spent a good chunk of my days out with friends.  And once again, my work took a backseat.

I've always been ambitious and for me to slack on work is not my normal way of doing things and it bothers me.  But at the same time, I want to enjoy my days here while I can.  So I'm torn.  How do I find my work/social/family balance?  Because now I socialize during the day and when the kids get home from school, I start doing my work and so the kids aren't getting what they need either.  Then they go to bed and I'm too tired from the day to get more work done.

So why care about this now after over 2 1/2 years?  Well, first of all, the new school year starts in a matter of weeks, a time that I look at as my New Years and so therefore feel the need to start things fresh.  And the second reason is that a number of my friends are leaving this summer/fall changing the dynamic of my everyday life.  With these two events colliding in the next few weeks, I've realized that it's time that I change my focus here.  And that I find a way to incorporate a better work/social/family balance.  It's something that I think is especially difficult for women who are always trying to manage work/life/home/social - and something always has to give.

For me, right now, I think that something has to be the social side of things.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't plan to become a hermit.  But I've got to learn to stop saying yes all the time and set limits with myself as to what a reasonable social life is.  Instead of 4 days a week perhaps I go out 2... And I know that will change week to week depending on what my work week looks like and the beauty of self employment is about the flexibility.  In the end though, I need to think before I act and make decisions based on a business owner and not as a social butterfly.

I've become lazy with my work.  I know my income is not essential to our survival and I've let that knowledge make me lazy.  I need to inspire and motivate myself to not just get back into work but to try to make something of this company.  Years ago my sales were through the roof and it felt so good - this year, I'm barely at 50% of what I did last year which wasn't so great to begin with.  It's not who I am and it's not who I want to be, nor is it the way I want to run my business.

I miss the rush that I get when I make a sale.  I miss the desire to beat my previous month's or year's sales.  I miss the full plate of projects that need to get done NOW.  I have no doubt I've lost clients because of my laziness and I don't blame them.  All I can do at this point is make changes to prevent this from happening again, regaining the focus I had when I first started out and we needed my salary to help pay the bills.  That urgency to get the next sale.

But it's not just about work but about my family.  Because I'm socializing so much, I'm saving work for later in the day when the kids get home and therefore, I find myself frazzled and trying to do too much at once.  Yes, I work best when I have a full plate of things that need to get done.  But I also need to work on my time management skills - getting things done earlier in the day so that when the kids come home I actually have the time that I can set aside to focus on them.  It's 2 hours out of my entire day, I can commit to giving that fully to them and I need to do that for them.

I never thought I would become so complacent and so comfortable in a lifestyle that doesn't fit my normal life.  But I have.  It feels good to a degree - not feeling the pressure of life in the US, keeping up with the Jones', feeling the constant need to get things accomplished or checked off my list.  It doesn't mean that I don't get things done, but I'm not longer achieving them with the passion that I used to do them in.  And it's affecting how I feel about myself.  Sadly I actually feel my best when Josh goes away because suddenly my plate is full of things that we normally split (that doesn't mean you shouldn't still do them Josh!) and I find that my day is so much more productive than when he's here and helping me.  So I need to take that feeling and apply that to my work instead.  It's going to take time to find this balance, I have no doubt...and to learn to set limits with myself but if I want to succeed in life and as a parent I know it's the changes that need to be made for the time being.


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