Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Balancing the days

OaksLast week was epic with tech failures.  My GPS, mobile phone, internet connection, and finally my computer itself all bit the dust on four sequential days.  Most could be remedied with some time and patience, but the computer issue was potentially catastrophic as I didn’t have a current backup (please make yours now).  Thankfully, the local repair person was able to image the hard drive and recover the data, and a new netbook should arrive tomorrow.

This all left me with a bit of extra time at the weekend, and the weather continues hot and sunny.  So I went down to the local pub to enjoy a pint, finish a novel, and admire the glowing sunset.

My replacement mobile phone rang.

An hour later I took stock.  45 minutes of misery from a former business partner, two follow-up calls to make sure he was contained.  The sun had set, the evening was lost, the beer was warm(er), and my stomach was in more of a knot than bt faultusual.

More than anything, this transition typifies the insanity that my life has become.

It was never a conscious choice.  It’s the result of many small choices made over the past six months.  Each was ‘temporary’; each was well-intentioned.

But, collectively, they are destroying the life that I came here to live.

Researchers note that the very traits that make people like me thrive as entrepreneurs are the ones that undermine our ability to say ‘no’.  I can set and reach lofty and significant goals.  I can adapt and fix things when they go wrong.   I can juggle priorities and work harder, longer, when I must.

sbb  2Your businesses will consume  every moment you offer them and then ask for more, I’ve advised my University class.  A Cambridge colleague told me the same the next morning over breakfast: it’s time to start committing to fewer choices.  (“Dinner parties are mere rituals; but you invite a man to breakfast because you really want to see him,” notes the FT, insightfully illuminating the virtues of 8 am conversations).  A US colleague shared the steps he’s taken towards balancing work (less) and family (more), with pictures.

I know that it’s definitely time to tame the beast...

It starts at home, where life refracts most personally and I have the most control to make situational and aspirational changes.

I still can’t sleep past 5, but I don’t engage with work before 8:30.  The cool quiet hours fill around the village, house chores, reading, and writing.  I’ve rescued plants to container gardens, repaired the apartment.  The thin high Duckscry of the neighbor’s new baby is becoming routine; mine are calling for job and college advice in the morning rather than late night.

Evening I’m brushing up skills, mainly Dutch and dinner for now.  Three tries to get the irregular verb right; three evenings over duck breast and potatoes until I got the right textures.  Get out to exercise or in for a show, share a long talks with friends over wine, make plans together, then seek fitful sleep by midnight.

This needs to evolve towards much further towards more balanced normalcy, and I know it’s a journey.  But I’ve made it stick for a week.

‘and the calls do stop coming when I stop taking them.

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