At this time of year, I tend to withdraw from Facebook. I thought about never returning, but I have a couple of work-related groups on there, so probably will, despite getting little interaction from my ‘friends’.
I withdraw because it makes me feel inadequate. It highlights exactly what I DON’T have in my life:
- No nights out with friends
- No work’s parties – in fact, no parties full stop!
- No exciting family evenings out (combination of unwilling teenagers and hubby’s punishing work schedule)
- No date nights (lack of baby-sitters and hubby’s punishing work schedule)
- No extended family get-togethers
Not just at Christmas – at any time.
And whilst I wish I DID have these things in my life, I also realise that these things are just the ‘extras’ in life: the icing on the cake. These aren’t the things that bring happiness (apart from very briefly). They enhance a happy life of course, but they aren’t enough on their own.
What really matters is:
Being healthy – thankfully I am. Party due to the fact that I Zumba regularly, almost always get my 10,000 steps a day, and cook balanced meals from scratch most days. Of course, this eats into my free time – time when I possibly be out socialising, but ultimately, its better for me.
Being loved – coming up to 30 years in a loving and mutually supportive relationship. It may not be exciting, but it’s as solid as a rock, and there’s a lot to be said for living with your best friend who accepts you just as you are.
Being secure – I was lucky to grow up in the 1980s when social mobility was possible. I was the first of my family to go to university and as a result gained a profession that allows me to earn reasonable money. But more importantly, it has allowed me to be my own boss. I’m master of my own (financial) destiny and have been able support my husband in his career.
Being there – Hubby and I have raised our two kids without a safety net i.e. extended family. Whilst we can’t declare the parenting journey a success JUST yet, we are well on the way to having created two fully-functional and pleasant young people. Of course, this takes up a LOT of our time – basically all the time we aren’t working. In order to make this happen, we’ve had to be super-organised, and possibly a bit too much at times! Having a social life is difficult for many reasons, so naturally, it has suffered.
Adding Value – I know that I add value to my family, but kids grow up – and at a scarily fast rate – so what happens when they longer need me? I’ve worked every year since I turned 16. It gives me purpose. It gives me focus outside the home. It allows to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. It gives me a reason to stay curious, to exercise my brain and keep learning. It gives me a huge sense of satisfaction when someone else’s career or life is improved by something I’ve helped them with.
So I know I’m lucky. I have a perfectly made delicious (if very plain) cake. Just with no decorations. And just sometimes, it would be nice to have a few frivolous decorations. So I feel entitled to be envious of others from time to time. But I must also remember that if I can’t have it all, deep down, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And this philosophy extends to my business too – many training providers are all about the quirky, shiny and exciting – the ‘icing on the cake’, and this is great if you have all the basics solidly in place. But adding decoration to a badly made cake won’t make it better. I help busy L&D Managers create a great basic cake that they can decorate how they wish! This means getting the basics right: Induction programmes, Personal Effectiveness training, New (and Potential) Manager Development, and Performance Management Programmes. Get those right, and then you can add extras to create a real show-stopper!