This is my last blog post on “finding balance” and although I haven’t decided if I’m going to shut down the entire blog, www.stopthechase.wordpress.com , or keep writing on the blog site with more random articles, let me share what took place this morning that sparked my decision.
I have been blogging for almost three years and as you’ve heard in other posts, the genesis of my writing hobby was an “industry blog” in 2008 while I was managing a start-up Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) division for a privately held staffing company inMichigan. Blogging had become hyper popular as a means to connect with people through experiential writing, so my team assumed that these sales prospects would read about the great service offerings our firm designed and provided and they’d be dying to do business with us and from these articles we’d sell hundreds of RPO relationships, make millions of dollars and I’d retire before 50. That was the plan and yes, I fell a “wee bit short” of executing on said plan.
Anyway- my original blog pages (furlowsopinion.wordpress.com & fearlessleadership.wordpress.com) focused on illuminating the lives of business professionals around our industry and after a dozen articles I realized that I had slowly transitioned my writing style from industry blogger to a wannabe Dr. Phil who spent his time airing the challenges and concerns of navigating life. Although airing my personal challenges was and continues to be therapeutic, it also made a number of my friends and family whisper behind closed doors and I’m sure it had prospective clients reading through and thinking, “he seems to really understand talent acquisition strategies and I like his perspective on what makes for solid client delivery, but wow, he needs to lie on a couch somewhere and work out his issues”.
Flash forward a few years and my writing continues to grow. As I’ve mentioned before, I have fallen in love with the process of writing and having been a fairly creative kid, it made sense that I would enjoy writing and creating, but as so many of us have done, I enabled the standard bullshit of life (peer pressure, popularity and a few other things) to step in the way of pursuing any of these dreams. This is where I would typically insert something about my deep insecurities and how I was too afraid to be “me” and how I let society force my hand in becoming an un-opinionated fair weather soul for most of my early years who was “liked” by most, but was unable to find his true calling. See, my writing has done some really solid work on my psyche, hasn’t it? Continuing on…the good news is my writing and some coaching has helped me embrace more of who I am and who I want to be as a person. I might not “love” to work, but I do enjoy working toward being “good” at everything I do. I enjoy the learning and effort it takes to pick up new concepts and I’ll generally work hard enough to get to the point of comfortable knowledge and then I get bored and look for something else to learn (which starts the process all over again). I used to hate this trait, but now I love it because it’s fuelled a fire to continue pushing and learning. I also like a bit of chaos/adrenalin in life and working in the RPO space had afforded me that fix too, but now as I embarked on becoming more authentic and have spent time and energy on activities like meditation, executive coaching and very honest reflection, which helped motivate me to focus on “finding” balance. The first step was to leave an organization I had been with for 4 years and get back into a more mature and corporate professional role, knowing it would enable me to stay focused on one area of my business and keep my life pointed in the right direction. The second step was to create the new blog site and begin writing, so I created stopthechase.wordpress.com and began writing about my search for balance and a number of other Dalai Lama’esque behaviors.
I thought everything was lining up appropriately and my 2010 career change completely backfired. It became an overwhelming role and proved to be a test of how much I really wanted to find the elusive life balance. As my career responsibilities quickly grew and the scope of my job changed I spent more time expecting that balance could be found if I kept looking for it. I looked every freaking spot a person could…under the table (nope, not there), in the backyard (nope, not there either) at the local bar, golf course, vacation spot, long weekend with the family and my children’s events (and nope- none of those places helped me find the balance I searched for). Everywhere I expected to “find” balance, I’d come up empty and would pout back to working 70 hours per week. This career backfire had me busy enough that I stopped writing, which felt logical at the time, but deep down I was pissed off.
I stuck out this career move for a year, but it got to a point where I decided to make some bold changes in early 2011 and quit my job. I decided to make more balanced choices like…normal work hours, productive time management, regular attendance at family events, parties with friends, running more regularly and all of it felt pretty good. My new career started in March of 2011 and the first two months were a decompression of sorts, so as I drove into work this morning (Monday, June 13) I noticed that I felt very refreshed (more so than I’ve been in years) and I had just come off a busy weekend where we spent time with almost everyone we know; my wife, my kids, my parents, in-laws, brother, sister-in-law, nieces and the list goes on. I shouldn’t feel refreshed I kept telling myself. Life tells me that I should be tired, irritated about not having a longer weekend and pissed about going into a job that I’ll have to hold for another 36 years -according to my financial planner.
Ironically, I wasn’t pissed. That’s when it sunk in. I reflected back over the last 4 months of my new role and the choices I’ve been making. There have been plenty of scenarios that could have prohibited me from achieving balance and I haven’t bowed down to any of them so far (as I have done from 1995-2010). The new structure of my job, the early pressure of performing, the overloading feeling of our family schedule, the need for social interaction with friends could have all derailed my balance, but they haven’t. Why? Because I chose everything that I’m experiencing now. Good, bad or indifferent! For the first time I’ve firmly wrapped my arms around something regarding finding balance. Finding balance is an oxy-moron! Choosing balance is the only way to obtain it. Choosing balance is a tough set of repeated behaviors that run against the grain of our traditional societal norms. Yes, my emails are still ploughing in, but after 5pm they’ll have to wait until 730am the following morning and yes, I still work in a misunderstood industry, but I’m choosing to find the beauty in putting people to work for a living, which has helped me to be more honest and compassionate with the people I come in contact with daily. I am communicating more clearly with everyone and have begun to realize that making these so called “balanced choices” is leaving more time in my day and I’m all around a more productive person because of them.
Think about all of the scenarios we experience daily and how many of them require personal choices. The smile or frown on your face is a choice, the run you might take is a choice, the bad mood you might want to stay in is a choice and the way you treat people is a choice. There isn’t anything overly complicated about it; in fact, it is a pretty easy concept to live by. If you want balance, peace and happiness, then choose it. I know it sounds cliché, but it is true and it’s why my blog content needs to change. I’m not looking for or trying to find balance…for the first time in my professional life, I’ve chosen it and I’ll continue to do so regardless of where I work or what I do for a living.
More to come in the future and I wish you all well.