I left work at 6pm tonight to meet a friend for dinner.

Most people would not think there is anything unusual about that—because normal people end a work day at the same time each evening.  But for me, it’s hard to leave at that time without feeling as if I’ve done something wrong.  It’s a hang-up of mine from years of working much too hard.

I can recognize this in other people and I give great advice on maintaining a balance of work and play.  But I’ve rarely taken my own counsel.

When I discovered a few health problems a couple of months ago, I realized that most of them could have been avoided if I’d taken better care of myself.  I’d heard the call of self-care over the last couple of years, but more often than not, I left it knocking on the door.  If I wanted to reclaim my health, I couldn’t regularly work late and then eat a late dinner and then go to bed and then get up early to start it all over again.

I was exhausted and spent.  So I set an out time for myself, a time when I needed to be done with my work day so I’d have time for the personal part of the day.  For the most part, I’ve managed to honor my deal with myself.

And I feel guilty every time.  I’m still working on that.  But I’m grateful to have decided that my well being matters.

As I sat with my friend over a beautifully delicious vegetarian meal, she talked about her turning point.  She realized that she wouldn’t be any good to her family if she continued down the workaholic path.  So she found work that allowed her the flexibility to respect her personal and professional needs.  

Our relationships deserve to be just as important as our work.  We may struggle to prioritize, but the grace is in the attempt.