Self Employment and Work/Life Balance by Rebecca Ronane
I am living in France and the cultural attitude to work and play is sometimes very different to the Anglo-Saxon. The month of November has two holidays the 1st All Saints Day and the 11th Armistice day and often as it happened this year with the 1st it fell on a Thursday, therefore the ‘pont ‘ (bridge) is taken which is the Friday, followed by the weekend and ‘voila’ you have your four days! Joie de Vivre (the Good Life) is taken seriously here! In fact 2018 claimed 12 public holidays and then depending on how long you’ve worked you will have a bountiful annual paid one too.
Does that mean the French style is a lazy one, no not at all, it happens to be at number 14 of the most productive countries in the world while my own country the UK doesn’t appear in the top 15! Does this mean that more days off, lead to better productivity, and happiness, for worker and boss alike? Japan the country with the least depression apparently, but the highest suicide, has a regular 40 hour week, but people there are well-known for putting in an extraordinary amount of overtime. It’s tricky to find out which country in general is doing work/life balance correctly. In the end it is left to ourselves to get it right!
In my work-world which has been the self employment one, work/life balance interestingly can sit on a fine line. I’ve been a tour director (leading/organising groups on holidays) and for many years one worked 15 hours a day, or even more for 6/7 months then a 5 months free, which may sound idyllic, however the mental stress of worrying where your next job might come from, often eradicates the potential pleasure. I’m lucky to have had an understanding partner in the same profession, but for those trying to settle back into a balanced life style it can be difficult. Finding the perfect scenario is placing boundary lines within the structure of your working life and managing to say ‘No’ to a job to save your sanity, not an easy option when organising your own finances and responsibilities.
Self employment might mean working for non scrupulous boss bullies, it’s tricky when you want that ‘job’ which someone else who might have a different set of values or simply feels they have to put up with being bullied as long as money is coming in. No benefits of any kind, but perhaps less tax seems appealing, but unless your discipline has stretched to creating plans for your future you can end up being at a loss.
Creating your own business from home appeals to me no end, no boss except yourself, no-one telling you when or what time you must start except yourself, no-one holding you accountable except yourself!
Ok, yourself has to be the perfect time manager, the perfect boundary liner, when your partner starts a conversation on what we might be eating tonight and whose going to do the shopping. The self discipline to eliminate self distraction, whether it might be family, friends, calls and social media is another milestone.
There are so many pros and cons in whatever work structure you find yourself in, the most important is that you have the wisdom and discipline to nourish all your needs. The majority of us have to work, to earn money, to be constructive and valued, but all of us will need to counter-balance the necessities to stay healthy in mind and body.
Boundaries and confidence to move away from work situations which don’t make you happy could be the answer. Self discovery to find out what makes you jump for joy, because certainly we all deserve to have happiness in our daily lives at work and at play. ~ Rebecca Ronane