As passionate as I am about my work, it all takes a back seat when my loved ones need me, something which really hit home this month.
I had to cancel a week full of appointments and out-of-town speeches to tend to my ailing husband. At first, I felt very guilty and was torn about bailing, but looking back, it was the only thing I could do. We take our health for granted until it’s gone. We take our loved ones for granted until they need us. I didn’t want to turn my back on my husband when he needed me most, even if it cost me business.
Happily, one thing I discovered is that people understand that there are times when you cannot keep your commitments. The company who had hired me to speak at their annual conference was quite understanding, and I’m offering them a webinar in late September to make up for my absence.
I know a lot of people who have sacrificed their family life because of their jobs. If you work for someone else, it’s not always easy to take time off to tend to your sick children, parent or spouse. Employers are not as sympathetic when it comes to employees’ personal problems. I know—I was in corporate for over 25 years and I was always guilt-ridden if something came up. I would go to work sick thinking my boss would get angry if I didn’t show up. I thought I was indispensible. What a joke! All I did was get sicker and contaminate my co-workers!
I probably felt that way because I always worked for successful, driven, self-made men who felt life was all about work. They had no tolerance for sickness, vacations or time off.
Now that I’m self-employed, I can set my own schedule, work around my personal life, and stay up until 2am answering emails if I have to. If a loved one needs me, I don’t have to beat myself up over taking time off work. It’s a priceless luxury.
I have also learned with time that not everyone is a workaholic. We are influenced by the events we experience when we grow up. Being a Baby Boomer, I lived believing “you have to pay your dues.” “Work hard and you’ll climb the corporate ladder” was the conventional wisdom.
GenYs (the Millennial Generation) do not feel that way. The Millennials have lived through 9/11, Desert Storm, the Iraq War, Katrina…that’s why they live “in the moment” and make work only one part of the life equation. People see time off as right, not a privilege.
As I get older and settle into my self-employed life, I am much more sympathetic about people’s personal lives. We all need to put ourselves in the place of other people when they have problems. I feel we are put on this earth to help one another. It’s all about mindfulness and taking time to think about and help others.
After all, you never know when you will be that person having to cancel a meeting because of a sick loved one.