This is the Big Picture!
Remember how great it felt the last time you landed in a really terrific job? Well, after about a splendid 1700 days (that’s close to around 5 years!) on board at solo project, I'm still riding that emotional high.
Working solo is never a private experience. You deal with a crowd of clients and vendors. You also have to take care of all the small details - from choosing a computer brand to hiring an auditor. And after you've negotiated and persuaded this army of bosses and suppliers, there's a cosmos of characters to consider when keeping the self-operated enterprise healthy: Bank managers, family members, friends, associates, the tax man and the demands of your personal life. You don't need to exclude every vestige of family and friendship from your day - that's one of the rewards of leaving a structured office environment. But you must honestly assess your distractibility and develop a plan to manage your resources effectively.
I went out to lunch last week with an old associate with whom I hadn't spoken in a long time. A few years back, we worked together at an Anglo-American consulting firm, and while our professional relationship was sometimes edgy, on a personal level we always seemed to bond in an undeclared, enjoyable way which made it clear that our camaraderie ran deeper than the ups and downs of the daily toil. Yet way leads on to way, and it had been more than 2 years since we'd really caught up. I made lunch plans with the expectation that we'd enjoy some lighthearted chat about recent events, but as we walked to a nearby Asian restaurant, it became clear that the conversation was going to be more solemn.
During the last year, my friend explained, he had been fired from his plush job and his marriage had broken up. Simultaneously, his health began to fail in ways that were clearly stress and anxiety related. He'd been spending a lot of time focusing on his work and his career, he recalled with clear regret, and along the way he'd allowed himself to lose sight of matters closer to home.
It’s obvious; we cannot allow ambition to blind us to the things that make life meaningful. No surprise, I guess – finding that balance is one of the most difficult challenges all workers face, no matter what kind of work we do. Paradoxically, I suspect this challenge can be especially difficult for all of us. Granted, the group dynamics of traditional office environments generate a lot of pressures and anxieties that can be difficult to counteract but I also know that many of us feel that they are their own most demanding taskmasters. That's why I often hear people expressing variations on the theme that "I am my own boss, and my boss is driving me crazy."
It’s true that the uncertainties of worklife can make it hard to unwind. Even during times of feast, it's natural to worry about the next famine - and that thought can generate a lot of stress and overwork. Likewise, when you no longer have to punch the clock, it's easy to settle into a mode where you're always on the clock, as the distinctions between work and not-work begin to blur.
Over time, I've found that the only way to truly inoculate myself from these pressures is to treat rest and relaxation as a "to-do" item, that's just as important as any project timeline or professional objective. And today, after having just returned from a one full Sunday of aimless floating aboard a sea boat in the Bay of Bengal, I'm feeling veeery relaxed and starting this Blog which I have been procrastinating for almost 2 years now!!
As your guide, my goal is to fill this blog with interesting, worth it stuff – mostly rambling thoughts, incisive commentary on subjects that affect me plus reviews and links to awesome movies, beautiful music, great places and other stuff that you probably would have never heard about. Over the next several weeks, keep your eyes peeled for some exciting changes here and pray and hope that I keep this blog alive!!! On my part, I’ll try hard, really hard.
Until then, Godspeed to a happy 2009 and beyond :)