- July 17, 2018
- Posted by: Kelsey Dixon
- Category: Blog, Startups
Whoever put the notion in our heads that we should have the perfect work/life balance is a liar. As if we all wake up every morning in perfect harmonious glory, in a pristine apartment, with a beautifully laid schedule and a career that never required after-hour work or thoughts…
I’m not sure what utopia set us up for this kind of failure, but I do know I don’t want to live there.
Perfect work/life balance is impossible—from early on in our careers to running the C-Suite gamut. (As modern day employees and entrepreneurs, we know better than anyone that circumstances are rarely cut and dry).
Work/life blend is the new “balance.” It means work and personal lives are so closely intertwined that they might be indistinguishable at times. There’s no “split personality,” instead career and personal goals are correlative. Enter “The Blend.”
I realized this early on in my career in recruitment and sales. I found that the time I spent at networking events and coffee dates to accomplish “sales,” became fun. I didn’t experience burnout from this because for my personality, and especially within that time of my life, meeting new people was something I enjoyed. Professionals became friends and, as they helped my bottom line, work partners, too. So my approach was to “work” as much as possible. Work didn’t need to end when I left the office. And my personal life didn’t have to end the second I sat down at my desk.
Additionally, working as a recruiter, trainer and field sales developer throughout my college career, meant that networking with other women my age, traveling to different states and playing with makeup was my “job.” I didn’t have a desk or an office, but I had a car and weekly accountability calls with my boss. The more I hustled, the more money I made, and simultaneously was able to grow an incredible network of women. I didn’t know where work and play started and stopped, so that’s how I grew up in my professional life.
After all, here I am—co-founder of a startup with hefty long-hour workweeks. My counterpart is a dedicated, marketing genius. She’s also a dear friend. Our office conversations (or in the humble beginnings, a couch…), constantly seesaw from “friend-zone” to “work-zone.” We recap weekend plans over lunch and discuss client work between social events. I have an accountability factor to her and our company not only as a co-worker but also as a friend. There’s double at stake and double the reward. Sometimes we work long nights and sometimes we close the laptops for long weekend adventures. We’ve built blended careers because our lives are far from black and white.
On top of that, and most recently, I have taken my portion of managing our business and channeled it all through a laptop. I returned to the PNW after 9 months in South America and Asia-Pacific. Because my business partner and I are friends, we also continually have each other’s best interest in mind, including personal goals. It was a dream of mine to live and work abroad, and now it has become my reality. And as we’ve grown our team, these new faces have become friends. I’m grateful for the blend and wouldn’t have it any other way.
To me, the blend also means doing something I love. I enjoy my work; I enjoy the people I work with, the clients we service and the industry we’re in. My work is motivating to me. This didn’t happen by accident—I had to build it! This is part of the blend: having your career feel less like “work” and more like “passion.” It may take a step, and then a leap, but it is possible. My goal in sharing my story is to have even just one person know that it’s possible for them, too.
The blend is not perfect—this is just as true as the fact that balance does not exist. Now that I have experienced having no permanent home and I have maintained a crowded startup calendar remotely, my life is a big ball of “blend,” and it has its challenges. For example, I recall hiking a mountain in Chile and in the same day, working at a cafe table staring at said mountain. I wasn’t on vacation, but I wasn’t in a routine either. I often felt like I was half-doing both working and traveling. This is a sinking feeling–that you should be in two places at once and always accomplishing two things at once. You feel torn and never completely satisfied with your day because it’s so blended that it’s hard to distinguish the stop and start. The feeling of accomplishment is buried by the rest left on your to-do list. You want to keep up with everyone back in the office, but you also want to keep up with your other life goals. It’s an unattainable feeling that leaves you dissatisfied with your progress regularly. I’ll close my laptop one minute and be working on mastering a new language in another, but my brain is still in my laptop.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in breaks, personal time, vacation, travel, family—all the warm fuzzies that “balance” brings to mind. However, it’s impossible for those things to not interrupt the flow of your “work life” and vice versa. If they are complementary, well then, that’s a step in the direction to satisfaction. And it’s called work/life blend.
Balance is boring. Balance is too neat. Order challenge, on the rocks, with an extra shot of chaos. Thrive in it. Enjoy grey-ness. Enjoy “the blend.” Strive to have work and life to embrace each other. Work for people you admire and create change with passion. You spend a minimum of 1,920+ hours a year working. Make it count.