By Michael P. Therrien
Have you ever asked yourself how to attain a work/life balance without jeopardizing your career–or family? How much “quality” time with family is enough? Maybe you wish you could volunteer at every baseball game, recital and field trip that your kids are involved in. How about some time to pursue your own interests?
Can you do it all? No. There is always compromise. Don’t beat yourself up over it. A number of friends in Chappaqua have told me they are impressed that I am able to juggle as much as I do and still have time for family while working full time. Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard work. Achieving balance takes effort and a supportive family. And it does come at a price–in my case, much less sleep then I’d like.
What’s my typical day? Up before 5 a.m. with a protein shake, in front of my computer for two hours of solid work, then join the kids for breakfast before driving them to school on the way to the office. Both my wife and I have the luxury of very short commutes but honestly, it wasn’t so much of a luxury as a conscious choice.
I try to leave the office by 5 p.m. to get an hour of exercise, at least three times during weekdays and twice with the family over the weekend. Sometimes I may only have 30 minutes for a workout but it’s important to keep the momentum. Make exercise a good habit. I should add that my workouts are intense but necessary for stress release. Do not try this at home!
I get home around 6:30 p.m. to help with dinner which allows me to spend a few hours with family. Then I catch up on any personal matters, prepare for the next day or spend some quiet time with my wife. Bedtime is usually midnight to 1am. Enough sleep? No. But it’s what I choose to sacrifice in order to do more. By the way, this also means that I give up television and don’t have time to read fiction.
With hours allocated for work, exercise and family, I do make time to pursue my own interests. After all, when the kids leave for college in the next four to six years, we need to have our own interests besides work. Fortunately, there are significant opportunities in and around Chappaqua to pursue interesting hobbies and activities.
For example, I’m actively involved producing videos at the New Castle Community Media Center. Late last year, my co-producers, Sue Resnick, Barbara Kornreich and I created a KEN KEN tournament video that inspired a feature segment on the Martha Stewart show. Check it out at nccmc.com. I am also acting, er.. I mean learning to act, at the Howard Meyer Acting Program in Pleasantville, a welcoming and enriching opportunity to incorporate some creativity and fun into a busy day. On the horizon… flying lessons!
When working to achieve balance, you can, as the word implies, sometimes lean more towards one way or the other when you’re pulled in many directions. It’s important to maintain flexibility to let that happen and deal with the changing priorities. Let some things slide and don’t get so caught up that the striving for balance makes you absolutely rigid.
I have a daily reminder of balance whenever I check the time. Close to my watch band on the inside of my wrist is a small tattoo. Two little bars sit side-by-side, one solid and one empty, a play on Yin and Yang which means balance.
The tattoo itself goes unnoticed by most, but I look at it every day to remember its significance: live a balanced life.