14 Dec Confessions of a Recovering Workaholic
Warning!! The flexibility, variety, mobility and enjoyment that come with being an interpreter or a translator (or both!) can be addictive, turning us into smiling, giddy workaholics!
Do you sometimes feel like your life is holding you back from achieving all you can in your career? A.A. Milne tells us in a quote from Winnie-the-Pooh: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
As I sit here writing this article, there’s no doubt I’ll be interrupted. It’s late in the day. I’ve commuted to my day job and back, done a little exercise, chatted with the kids about homework and made plans with the hubby for the weekend. Everyone’s still up and active, and will probably need mom. Luckily, I don’t have any translations to work on, so when the kids finally say goodnight, I should be able to turn away from the computer and return their hugs. Perhaps I’ll take a moment to rub my boy’s hair until he
falls asleep. All in a day’s work.
Sound familiar? I’m sure there’s somebody reading this who is also a working parent with a career that’s in a constant state of movement. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. I enjoy every aspect of my day (well, maybe not the commute, but you get the picture). I’ve got a wonderful family and home life, and a career I enjoy very much.
In fact, this career can be exciting to discover. A court interpreter friend of mine recently shared that, even after years of training, she’s still learning about niches and career paths she hadn’t been exposed to before. Indeed, the world of interpreting and translating is vast, interesting, challenging and rewarding. Naturally, many of us want to experience it all; it’s a great career!
But… workaholic? The image that comes to mind is a businessman fighting traffic, burning the candle at both ends trying to get ahead, and looking frustrated and tired. That’s not me; not at all! How can my little addiction to work be negative if I enjoy it so much?
I often reflect on my 15-year career and still feel like a newbie, especially when I see so many of my role models achieving great success as independent business owners, world travelers and leaders in my chosen profession. I start thinking of what I can do to improve myself, perhaps breaking into new areas, continuing to explore all the possibilities available to somebody like me. It seems like the more I focus on the future, however, the more I become unavailable for my present.
Lately, I’ve had to force myself to really pause and reflect, and realize that my career path is in a sort of tug-of-war with my home and family life. As much as I may enjoy my work, I acknowledge that my primary duties are to raise a family, make ends meet, and simply live life. What makes this a harsh realization is that I don’t see my work as a chore, much less the despicable and loathsome task of the typical workaholic. Instead, I often treat it as a blissful hobby.
As I reflect, I remember that any changes I might hope for will likely be slow in coming. There will be a time, surely the “right” time, that my professional plans and my family responsibilities will balance just right and allow me to experience some of the things I have my sights set on. In the meantime, that means I sometimes have to say “no” to projects I would probably delight in, set goals for farther in the future in some cases, and stop wondering how I can mimic the achievements of my role models.
John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Whether you’re just starting in this wonderful profession or are smack-dab in the middle like me, all of us can benefit from taking active steps to attempt to find balance. At first it might seem like only those of us with families need this advice, but upon further reflection, even a single, globe-trotting, successful businessperson who can go full-force will eventually need a little “me” time.
At any rate, realizing we’re at risk for becoming a workaholic is a great first step in ensuring that life doesn’t pass us by while we’re working on improving in the careers we love. This might mean taking a certain day of the week completely off (saying “no” even when we’d love to say “yes” to that interesting assignment). If we do this, how could we ever regret the abundance we experience, despite not quite achieving all we set out to do?
Learning to enjoy even the little victories like performing really well in our day-to-day duties and making slow, steady progress toward a long-term goal may have to suffice while we take care of our life business. Fear not: whatever it is we’re meant to do or be or achieve in this life is happening before our eyes, and we can start reveling in it right now.
The lights are out, the kids have gone to bed, and I’m satisfied with the steps I’ve taken in both my family and professional life. Admittedly, I left things pending for tomorrow, but my priorities are in line and my career goals are clear. Workaholic? Perhaps; but definitely recovering.