I started to write this sat looking out over Birkdale village. Cup of coffee for company. This scene and how I feel as I write epitomises the balance I have found to allow me to live my life to the fullest whilst ensuring I get the professional satisfaction from doing good work with good people on my terms. My day today is how I imagined a perfect working day could be when I set out to make the lifestyle changes that meant a change of job, location and approach. Let me take you through it.
Up at 06:45, starting the day playing with Aoife for a few minutes before taking her downstairs to do the breakfast. Dr J got ready to go to the university. I made us all breakfast and got Aoife’s bag ready for pre-school. A few domestic jobs done – dishwasher, bins and the like – all to the soundtrack of the Today Programme. Dr J joined me to eat breakfast and saved the day by doing Aoife’s plait. My repertoire does not extend yet to an Elsa plait – as we recreate the Frozen look.
I dressed Aoife and myself – you’ll be pleased to hear – before heading out to pre-school. An uneventful drop off, with Aoife virtually shoving me out of the classroom door so she could get on with playing with her friends. I remain fascinated – it is partly my experience of corporate working – that I am one of very few men at the metaphorical school gates. Most, if not all the men I worked with in my old life, were in the office at this stage of the day not with their little ones. On the way home I call into Tesco – despite been a list obsessive I had forgotten one or two things off the Ocado shopping order this weekend hence the enforced pitstop – and was back home for 9am. Two hours of work followed – interspersed by a quick trip to the Post Office. I went for a run at 11:15, by which time the mist and cold had given way to a glorious autumn day; the sort of day that is seared into my memory from Ryder Cup days at The Belfry or World Matchplays at Wentworth. I use the runs as part of my wellbeing routine but also to keep up to date on current affairs, which helps my work, so I listen to podcasts.
A client call, more work, some PhD reading and note making and then lunch. I made mine and at the same time threw a chilli on for later for Dr J and I. It is worth recording that although we are only at 12ish I have spoken to Dr J twice already – I would speak to her all day if that was practical. I did some more work before heading out to the village for a coffee and some writing time. I will do the pre-school pick up shortly and then head to Nanna’s – this afternoon Mrs J Senior, Aoife and I took Nanna’s dog (and Nanna!) for a walk. This is partly just a fun thing to do but also a way of satisfying Aoife’s curiosity with pets without actually getting one! Let’s see if that strategy holds.
Home to do dinners and wait for Dr J to return home – this highlight of my and Aoife’s day. I normally use the time after dinner to do a little more work, catch up with emails, post the blog etc. That’s the plan this evening before I sit down to watch Liverpool on TV and read my book (thank you Madam Secretary – so far so good)- two staples in my ‘looking after myself’ routine.
This has been a good day. Hugely productive. I’ve achieved lots for my work. Domestic jobs done. To do list getting emptied. The warm glow of feeling like I have done good stuff in my work and good stuff at home – feeling like a good person who does his bit for his family and meets the promises he has made to clients and colleagues – this is very important to me.
Part of my wellbeing philosophy is to try to secure not just balance but also some variety – doing different things to keep me stimulated. Work – for different clients. Reading. PhD. Blogging. Other writing. Exercise. Time on the move. Lunch at home. Coffee out. Most importantly time with my girls – and my Mum. Radio. Music. Politics. Sport. Plenty of time at home. Fresh air. All good.
Today was a good day – a day I couldn’t have designed better and there’s the rub. I have designed it. This is a good day because I made conscious decisions, got organised, planned it and executed it to make it a good day. My experience tells me that leaving your wellbeing to chance is a game of Russian roulette. The only way to make sure you get it right is to make sure yourself – decide what you want to, choose the different things that make you happy and make it happen. Why would you leave something that is so important to someone else? Take responsibility. Take charge. Take it on.