This morning's riff is a continuation of thoughts on work I began in meaningful work now, the Middle, and the Kensai. Optimal work means different things to different people with one common thread, work and life balance is a moving target.
Work life balance
My wife and I have had a fully loaded schedule since the beginning of the year, and my own weekly productive fraction has hovered between 50-55% since mid 2009 depending on sleep and projects. Between her master's thesis and my ceaseless curiosity of startups and web development, neither of us have had much down time. Even last week's road trip to Boston was a busy conference for Michelle, a mad dash to explore the city on foot for me, followed by shared evening exploration1.
Both my wife and I believe if we work hard and maintain focus for the next decade or two, that the dividends will be well worth any lost down time now. It's a gamble. We may find ourselves in the same situation a few years from now, without any recognizable improvement in work life balance. Life happens.
We don't deprive ourselves of travel, working in one longer and a couple of shorter trips a year. Multi-week vacations are for honeymooners and wealthy folks, and yet a good European vacation or a trip to New Zealand and Australia would be exhilarating.
How will we recognize when we've arrived at the surface? FU money is an obvious sign, but the likelihood and importance of capital wealth is fleeting. An essential signal for arrival is a liberated schedule which is heavily guided by one's enthusiasm and interest. Work we love energizes us for the long haul.
Currently over half of my productive time is directed by third parties. I struggle to shift that pie towards self inclined and influenced projects, yet it oscillates depending on project and fiscal demands. The percentage of self directed work serves as a compass towards independence, and due north is 100% of work I choose (or that chooses me).
- It was good to get home to our dogs, bed, and my iMac's display after 3 days away. The MacBook Air's screen and touch-pad was frustrating for long term development, although I'd adjust if I had to.