Recently my husband and I made a massive decision about our personal and professional lives. All based on the pretext of Work Life Balance. Although Work Life was the main driver.
Why? We’d both spent a number of years following the rule book about working in an office, for a corporate, with the 30min desk-based lunch break. But you know what? Rules are meant to be broken. So we did.
We have worked with some amazingly talented people who became friends, mentors, and future collaborators. Then there were the ‘challenging personalities’. And of course the Figjammers! Fortunately, these people were in the minority, but it’s amazing the way your thinking changes when you get damaged by a few of these people. You have a choice to make – stay on the corporate bus or ding the bell and get off at the next stop.
We recently spent time working in the US. The business model our respective employers had set up was a ‘remote’ one. It was good to work from home, but I missed the day to day interaction with people. I enjoyed not being exposed to the daily political cut and thrust of the office, but on the other hand, I missed having cake for no reason and a ready made social group.
We were living, and working in an apartment in Manhattan. Yes, both of us. Wife and husband, and two energetic dogs, 24/7 in a 2 bedroom apartment. Miraculously, we survived without killing each other! We were ‘living the dream’. Literally.
When our time came to return to Australia, we took this experience and morphed it into something we wanted, not what the rule book said we should do. And we changed big time! The incessant noise of NYC (which we loved, by the way) was replaced with the constant crashing of waves as we moved to a small coastal town in Queensland. 2,500 people, 9 kilometres of beach at our back door and not even a set of traffic lights.
Friends and ex-colleagues challenged us – why, was the first thing everyone asked. The truth is, you cannot compete with New York. It’s an amazing, eclectic mix of fun and chaos. Working remotely in NY is far from remote work. If you need a break, you can grab the elevator to the lobby, and within 2 minutes have an array of distractions available to you. If the truth be known, probably too many distractions. To get my fix of people watching, I would disappear into the city for a few hours at a time, coming home when I was too cold to go any further.
Could the major business centres in Australia offer us the life we craved? We felt they couldn’t, which pushed us into another major decision. What do we do for work? So we combined our collective experience and invented our own Work Life Balance.
It’s a risk, but apparently fortune favours the brave. Let’s hope it favours true balance of work and the life we hope to enjoy.
We should add, we are fortunate to be in the position of having flexibility in where we live and work. Many don’t have that option. But people can influence their own destiny, and we hope we can inspire friends and colleagues to break the rules!
Moving to the US was a 5 year plan in the making – so start planning now!
Photo credit: Sarah