Over the past several years I’ve had the privilege of throwing bits for some seriously amazing companies. Usually, the unspoken mindset was that you were supposed to work until the task was done or that more hours meant more code (good or bad). The idea was by focusing on the tasks and the work, we would inevitably achieve our goals and everyone would be happy. I remember working some really long weeks hitting the work goal, but not feeling very happy.
But here’s the challenge for all developers who can relate:
“Go for work-life awesome not work life balance.”
This is the idea that you can actually have a job that you are genuinely passionate about and you can live out what you love to do in all aspects of your life not just at this thing called work.
The great deception is that work and life should be two separate and sterile boxes that need to be measured and weighed by unreachable time-lines and responsibility. This is deceiving because somehow we are convinced that we can’t have job that comes from what we do in life. The sad reality of attempting to serve two separate masters will result in pulling us away from one and the other.
The fact is that our work skills and the rest of our lives are not separate hot and cold faucets. Instead of becoming frustrated at trying to compartmentalize, we should think about making our lives more congruent. Work skills and talents should not be one dimensional, but can be thought as flowing and contributing to all aspects of our life or like two sides of Velcro that fit together snugly.
With a different mindset, your life can be work-life awesome. People have attempted to establish balance by completely separating the two, but consider your talents, creativity and passions as a sum rather than a quotient of personal and work happiness.
Here’s the secret: If you find something that you are genuinely excited about and you are fortunate enough to do it as a “job,” how awesome would that be to share that passion with your family and friends? What if I told you your work talents were not separate but part of whom you are?
I’ve been writing code for a long time, but it was more recently, when I joined New Relic, I began to realize that my work is more than a component of my life that should be turned off when I left the building. This revelation sprung from New Relic’s culture: a place of doers who care tremendously about what they do; a place where every moment is deemed important, not just at work but everywhere; a place where really cool engineering stuff begins at the top and at the bottom; where they’d rather have you over the long run then burn you out early in exchange for some code; a place where family comes first.
Being at New Relic is challenging, hard and awesome all at the same time, but it has never been work for me. Before joining on, I had accepted some beliefs that work always had to be work, which was often frustrating, and that life was the escape from being frustrated at work. But I had it backwards – Life is awesome when this thing called “work” becomes another way of expressing the passions in your life.
Be sure to watch my full ‘Nerd Life Balance’ talk from FutureStack and also check out my slides below: