Our manager called a team meeting for us to meet a new co-worker that went something like this: Our lead writer introduced herself by how long she’s worked with the company, the projects she’s working on, where she’s come from, and where she sees herself going. I introduced myself as the guy who hits the ground running, taking on all sorts of different projects for the residential gateway and fiber-to-the-home teams, including firmware documents that made me curious about hacking the embedded system within my own 4-port gigabit wireless draft-N router and my broadband residential gateway at home.
Another co-worker introduced herself as someone who loves working, loves her job, and loves her team. But when she goes home, she shuts it off, because she has a life. She has a family. She likes to cook dinner, talk to her husband, play with her kids. You know, normal stuff. She’s not interested in hacking her router’s firmware. In fact, she rarely uses the computer after the kids go to bed unless she needs to post pictures of her family vacation on Facebook.
Wow. I couldn’t have seen that one coming from a mile away. I realized that sometimes I get so obsessed with what I do that I ignore my family. Occasional moments of fatherly wisdom aside, I often find myself involved in several projects at a time that take me away from being present with my family. I appreciate comments like the one from my colleague because they keep me in check, and remind me of one source of my refreshing. (The other is the source of all refreshing, but I’ll get to that.)
List time again. This time I need to develop an action plan for improving my life-work balance (enter dramatic theme music soundtrack here).
Get a regular sleep schedule
Hm… sleep. Such a rare commodity for those in the IT field. I wrote a post in my old blog years ago lamenting on the mistakes I made coding a website while half asleep. While I was able to pull all-nighters while studying web design in school, I’ve found that the older I get, the harder it is for me to stay focused after the sun goes down. Even though I so badly want to stay awake and complete that “one final thing and it will be perfect,” I need to remember that I’m human and can only function after I get my beauty rest. Some would even venture to say I need a lot more beauty rest than most.
Eat regular meals with the family
The family that eats together speaks together. Usually. In our case, at least, our regular times of repast provide moments of light-hearted fun and foolishness that I don’t often see at work. Yes, my workplace is fun and we joke around a lot, but there is something to be said about the craziness that only a family can provide. And I am blessed that I have been provided with a crazy family.
Make use of my gym membership
My wife and I signed up for our gym memberships over a decade ago. I only keep paying the dues because to cancel them and renew them would double the fee. However, by not going I not only waste money, I bemoan my waist. The running joke is that I’ve been growing a 40 lb. turkey on my lap. Research has proven that regular physical exercise provides discipline, reduces stress, and improves mental acuity—and who couldn’t use more mental acuity? My doctor once told me, “Tony, if you treat your body like a 40-year-old, you’ll have the body of a 40-year-old.” I must be getting close to 40, because I’m really starting to feel like it.
Learn how to take a vacation
Before leaving for vacation (yeah… I published this post while on vacation) I was so focused on getting that “one last thing” accomplished that my wife single-handedly planned our travel arrangements and packed our gear. I’ve always been somewhat of a workaholic when I was working one job and completing side contracts to eventually do what I really wanted to do. Now that I’m finally doing what I like to do, I find that I can’t get enough of it and want to do more. I didn’t feel like I was ready to take a vacation, and was prepared to send my wife and kids away by themselves so I could get some stuff done.
Of course, now that I’m actually on vacation, I’ve settled down from all the anxiety, and am now kicking back and enjoying the scenery, all the while basking in this wonderful gift of life and family I’ve been given. Which leads me to my final point:
Incorporate a regular devotional time into everything
One of the things I resonated with while reading The Shack was that my daddy, God, loves and cares for me so much that he wants to spend every single moment with me. Not just 15 minutes of prayer time in the morning. Not just grace over meals. Every moment. Because he is omnipresent, he can do that, easily. He exists in all space, in all time. He is forever with me, and promises he will never leave me nor forsake me. When I realize that level of devotion to me, it’s only natural that I respond with a similar level of devotion.
In The Shack, the three representations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shared a time of devotions after dinner. In the religious world, “devotions” means it’s time to crack open the huge King James Bible and lay down some scripture. But the characters gave their devotions much differently. As they were the holy trinity, they offered devotions to each other in the form of truly appreciating each other for a specific reason for that day. However, they didn’t do the same thing the next day. Instead, they enjoyed their time just being together. There is no rule. There was no pattern.
Now, many critics call this blasphemy. They will fight tooth and nail to protect their miracle hour of prayer, sectioned off to walk through each portion of the Lord’s prayer, the Prayer of Jabez, or some other pattern that may or may not bring them into unity with the spirit of God. While I admit that discipline is an important part of discipleship, some of us need more discipline than others in order to keep in tune with God. For me, that first 15 minutes doesn’t cut it—I finish the rest of the day more a heathen than had I not bothered to pray.
For me, enjoying God in every moment and appreciating the wonders of this world and the people in it help me to realize how truly blessed I am. The sheer size of this universe makes me feel so small, yet even in my insignificance God still loves me unconditionally. Recently a guest speaker at church quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He explained that the word “world” was translated from the original Greek word, “kovsmoß”, or “kosmos”. God loves the entire universe and everything in it that he created.
So, now that I’ve had a chance to recover my senses, pick up my pride, and work out a plan, I need to act on it. I’ll continue to jot more thoughts down as they come to me as comments or future blog posts. Even though I write long posts, there’s no way I can possibly think of everything right at this moment. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to. I’m just an important part of my heavenly father’s plan. And so, my friend, are you.