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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. 

 

I first started working when I was 17.  I loved it immediately – the responsibility, the camaraderie, the independence.

All these years later, there are many days I feel so exhausted that I wish I would win the lottery so I could go far away from any responsibility.

I am fortunate to work in a place where every team member is treated respectfully, where everyone is encouraged—no, mandated—to have an opinion, where you are required to take ownership of the work you do. But I juggle many detailed projects. And sometimes in trying to get it all done, I feel as if I’m not doing anything well.

Today was a day when I remembered that I am very good at my job.

I was reminded that I’m good at anticipating what may happen, I’m skilled at coming up with plan B, I’m experienced enough to know that you can still ask the question even when you think the answer will be no…because every now and then, the answer will be yes.  I am good at what I do.

And maybe, just maybe, the next time I feel exhausted and think I cannot do one more thing, I will remember this and know that it’s worth hanging on.

That is the grace of remembering who you are.

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