I have a confession to make. This is really hard for me to say, but I would rather stay home and give the baby my undivided attention than work full time. I know this does not seem like much. I know that this seems to many like the ideal situation. Of course, I’d want that! For me though, it goes against everything I know about myself.
I have always been all about my career. I was always top of my class. I worked my ass off in college, I got one of the most prestigious scholarships in the country to work abroad, and I went through grad school hell to get my PhD. I’ve been working in the private sector for 6 years now, killing it at operations management. Yet, when I went back to the grind after maternity leave, I was not feeling any of it anymore. I’m still not feeling it almost 8 months later. I can’t say I know what to do about it either.
I can’t concentrate at work. I’m not my usual go-getter self. My motivation sucks. By my standards, I feel like I’m failing at my job because I can’t put in the effort I used to. I’ve even thought about demoting myself to have a more flexible schedule, but really, that wouldn’t solve my problems either.
Everything is exacerbated because I can work mostly remotely. I’m very lucky to be able to do this, but it largely contributes to my lack of focus. I could go into the office or work at a coffee shop when I have help with the baby, but I’d really rather be able to be home with him. I somehow feel worse when someone else is watching him than when I’m unsuccessfully trying to do my job and take care of him at the same time.
There is never enough time in the day for everything I’d like to do with him, and there is never enough time to sleep, which is generally necessary for accomplishing anything that requires thought. As a result, thinking does not seem to be one of my strengths these days at work.
I know that I’m not alone here. I’m really just having trouble admitting it to myself. Where do I go from here? I’m not really sure. Quitting or reducing my hours is not an option at the moment, so I need to just suck it up. That must be step 1.
Suck It Up
Put on your big girl pants and do your work. That must be my mantra every day. Everyone has to do things they don’t want to do, and for a lot of people, work is just a job. I used to love my job, and I’m very lucky to have a job that’s stimulating and interesting. What I really need to do is to learn to love it again. I need to remind myself what’s great about it and that other options have far fewer advantages than where I currently am. Working on a path towards a career change is a more extreme solution, but I don’t think I need to go there just yet.
I have always been about work-life integration rather than work-life balance. Being able to travel and work when I want to in my line of work has made work-life integration the better concept for my situation. Given the flexible and remote nature of my work, I could be doing a much better job managing my time to make the most of the situation. Time blocking has proven to be the most effective way for me to accomplish the most and be the most productive. I just need to be more diligent about scheduling and actually following through with my plans.
I Need To Want To Be Better At Work
I need to want to improve my job performance. I need to block out time to be able to focus on my work, and I need to carve out time for professional development. Like any relationship, a job can also have its ups and downs, and sometimes you have to put in the effort to make it work. I’m not just talking about doing the job. I’m talking about the emotional effort required to make the job sustainable. I do want this to work, and in order to make it work, I have to perform at the standard that I believe I can. If not, I’m prone to guilt and putting undue pressure on myself. None of that is any fun.
Just writing this all out has been cathartic. Even if we can’t quite “have it all”, the goal is to have as much of “it all” as possible, and I hope that is motivating enough to give me the kick in the pants that I need.