1840 Hours

Those of us that work a full time job of 40 or more hours a week, spend almost a third of lives at work. For years now, I’ve been driven by passion and purpose. Yet, despite enjoying my work and being proud of the positive change it makes in the world, I find myself weary of the status quo.

Business has a bottom line – some models of that are harder than others. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why it has to be so hard. I’ve come to the conclusion that we make it hard on others because someone else has made it hard on us, thus, the cycle perpetuates and it gets harder and harder for everyone until finally, something cracks and we are forced to hit the reset button.

Even in the happiest of work environments, there are days when running a business feels like being on the hamster wheel. For profit, nonprofit, it really doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running, it seems to be the same despite the varying challenges. We’re all in the throes of survival.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on forced bed rest as I recover from surgery. It has given me the mental and physical reset that I didn’t realize I needed. 2015 was admittedly a very challenging year, both personally and professionally. While I can’t say it was a bad year because indeed there were many successes, triumphs and wondrous adventures, it was trying and forced me to shoulder burdens I wasn’t sure I could overcome.

I needed this reset and while it doesn’t have to be a new year for this to happen, it comes at a good time as there is something hopeful about each new year. I make, like so many others, New Years Resolutions as I embark on the opportunity for a fresh start each January.

This year, my first thought was of my health because surgery was looming over me in the weeks ahead. I had resolved to drink more water. Easy enough and certainly attainable. However, I’ve had a lot of time over the last couple weeks to ponder what I should do with my 1840 hours a year of work, being very mindful of the fact that if I’m committed to living better, then I must also start working better. It does, after all, engross nearly a third of my year! How could I live better without including a change of work habits in the equation?

There are some carryovers from previous resolutions. Put my efforts towards my passion, of course. Strive to make a difference; that’s been a given for over half a decade now since I made the move to the social enterprise sector. What else would I want to add to this year’s list that could change how I work? Looking back at 2015, I found moments of happiness and inspiration that helped me craft a small list.  I’m sure I’ll add to it as the year continues to unfold.

Schedule “walking” meetings. I live next to a park and so why not? Why should we be expected to sit behind a desk when our conversations are that of world changing programs and advocating for better, brighter futures? I hope that you will join me on these walks and that it inspires you to think differently about meetings.

Conversations over tea. I don’t expect everyone to love tea as much as I do, but there is something vulnerable, raw and cathartic for me during tea time. It’s different from going out for a beer with colleagues. Instead, the peacefulness of these interactions help me hear the sentiments that are not spoken. Sometimes, the quiet roars louder than any lion.

Handwritten letters. I enjoy the rapid delivery and connection of email, texting and instant messaging. However, I derive such joy from receiving handwritten notes. I resolve to bring this joy to others occasionally, but first, I must update my address book because I only have emails for the majority of my contacts.

Embracing differences. I’ve always tried to do this and so this serves simply as a reminder. Certainly, I can respect that disagreement does not equate to the inability to work together. In fact, it might forge stronger partnerships as we strive to uncover different aspects of the same problem.

Disrupting the norm. I can appreciate the way things work and the understanding of “this is how it’s done,” but the world is changing and if we stagnate we will never evolve or improve. It’s not that I don’t care “how it’s done.” I want to explore new ways of doing things and I want the freedom to make those mistakes as I learn what does and doesn’t work.

Hammock naps. I will strive to get more done in less time so that I allow myself time to indulge in things like hammock naps on a gloriously beautiful day. What is the point of becoming more efficient if I simply busy myself with more and more tasks? Breathe and reset more often.

Creating zen. Finally, I want to find balance. I know, this is so cliché. I’m not seeking a work life balance. I believe that if I’m doing the best work of my life, then I am simply living, not working. I believe that if I’m following my passions, then those lines should blur and that shouldn’t cause an imbalance or give others an image of a workaholic when they see me. The balance that I’m seeking to create is of the mind, body and spirit. I can create spaces that allow for my creative mind, physical health and positive energy to thrive. I can take on projects where my curiosity and imagination can flourish alongside my experience and wisdom. I can attend events that allow me to be my whole, worldly and uniquely quirky self. I can find balance between living with the technology I love and work with daily and turning off technology to create more moments of presence.

If I start with these resolutions and I do it right, these healthier work habits should account for about 276 of my work hours in 2016. It should give me the mental resets that I need throughout the year to help overcome challenges that will surely come. I hope it also helps those around me embrace a different way of working and that we’re not making it so hard on each other.

Let us embrace change. Let us ring in the new year. The year of the Fire Monkey!

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