It's Thanksgiving week, which means our thoughts should be focused on gratitude, service and love of our family, friends and neighbors.
I have been thinking of all of those things, while also pondering with anticipation the massive turkey dinner that is just a couple of days away and the opportunity I will have to spend a Thursday watching football instead of working in a cubicle. (I really am grateful for those things, so that's OK, right?)
Seriously, though, I know I have much for which to be grateful. For example, last year during the week of Thanksgiving, I was with my mom, dad and sister in a hospital as my dad had cancer surgery to remove one of his kidneys. This year, I'm glad to say his recovery from that surgery has gone relatively well, and he is now cancer-free.
But that's not all. There are also many work/life balance-related items for which I am truly thankful. In the hopes that I'll inspire thoughts of gratitude for you, too — and maybe give you some ideas for improving your own balance — I've decided to list some of those things. This year, I'm grateful for:
— My wife. In addition to all she does to help me and our children, she is a wonderful example of someone who genuinely loves people and strives to serve everyone she meets. She really is a unique and amazing person.
In a work/life balance context, I'm grateful for her support and encouragement as I changed careers last year. Without her, I wouldn't have had the courage to make such a drastic change at this point in my life. However, I'm so glad I did, as it has allowed me to spend more time with my family — including her. We've tried hard to make time for frequent date nights, which have given us opportunities to talk and helped us stay on the same page regarding our family and financial goals.
My quest for balance would be doomed to failure without her, and I'm thankful for every day we have together.
— My children. They make my quest for balance fun, and they definitely keep me on my toes.
As a result of my improved work schedule, free of night and weekend responsibilities, I have had the fun opportunity to brush up on my algebra and other school subjects as I help them with homework.
I've also enjoyed our one-on-one time during father/child outings. There's nothing like finding out what's going on in the brain of a 6-year-old boy or 14-year-old girl during a little conversation over ice cream.
— My other family members and friends. No one goes through life without hitting the occasional bump in the road. Any time those bumps appear before me or a member of my family, any number of people are ready, willing and able to lend a hand.
These same people have given me many suggestions about things to try as I attempt to build a more balanced life. I'm grateful for their caring, their wisdom and their words of advice.
— The company for which I work. I'm grateful to be part of a business that says it wants its workers to have balanced lives and backs up what it says with actions.
For example, when my dad was having his surgery last year, I had only been on the job for a couple of months and had not yet saved up many vacation days. But my boss and others worked with me, allowing me to complete some tasks remotely so I could be there with my family during a challenging time. I'll always remember that.
— My boss. I feel fortunate to work for someone who is intelligent and witty and acts with integrity. He is demanding, but also understanding, and I've learned a ton from him during the last 15 months.
I also appreciate his belief in work/life balance, which was made clear to me even before I started my job on the day after Labor Day in 2011. The week before that first day, I sent my soon-to-be boss an email, asking whether there was anything I should be researching or studying to prepare. He responded with a few suggestions, then added, "But don’t at all feel obligated; it’s important to me that you have a restful Labor Day holiday."
That stuck with me, because I've seen since then that he was sincere. In that way and many others, he has set a good example for me as a manager.
— My team. I'm privileged to work with some of the most intelligent, skilled, dedicated and hard-working people I've ever met. They've been patient with me as the "new guy" and have bent over backwards to help me learn the ropes.
But they're also an extremely fun and close-knit group, showing repeatedly how much they care for each other, not just as coworkers, but as a work family. Even when the job gets a bit stressful or challenging, they're always looking out for each other and willing to pick up the slack when someone needs to get away for a morning or an afternoon for family reasons.
I like the culture we've developed and the way they've welcomed new members to the team during the year. They teach me something new every day, both about the job and about being a better person. I truly appreciate them.
As you can see from this list, my life has been blessed in many ways. I hope yours has likewise, both in terms of work/life balance and just life in general.
And here's hoping all of us will remember to show gratitude in our homes, our communities and our workplaces through our service to others in the year to come. If we do, we might end up on someone else's list of things for which they're grateful, and that would make for a happy Thanksgiving, indeed.