I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while but haven’t been able to articulate myself in terms of the message I wanted get across until now. This post is about work life balance and how it’s so critical to maintain. This is about not letting yourself become consumed by work and career. This is about realizing what’s important in life…what really matters.

Last year I was driving my family to see the Christmas lights a local street puts on every year. While stopped a set of traffic lights I remember my brain ticking over trying to resolve an issue at work…I can’t remember exactly what it was but it was one of those times where your brain is on a loop and you can’t switch it off. I remember looking down at my phone to check something and then drove off. The only problem was that the light was still red and I found myself half way through the intersection with traffic still cutting across.

My wife yelled and only then did I realise what I was doing…to be honest I have no idea why I took off with the light still red…I just did! Luckily the other cars had noticed my mistake and stopped before anything serious happened. This wasn’t inattention…this was total absorption. Total absorption of mind and body in whatever problem it was and the total disconnect with the task at hand. Whatever it was I was trying to work out while waiting at those lights, it had resulted in me putting my family at risk.

People that know me know that I am find it almost impossible to switch off. If I am not at work I am thinking about work or thinking about checking my Twitter stream…seeing what’s happening on Slack or trying to work out the next blog post. I have a serious and very real case of FOMO. I realise that having this addiction or for a better word, dedication to my career which doubles as my hobby which doesn’t help isn’t healthy.

The inability to switch off is a dangerous one because I find that my brain will always be ticking…consumed by whatever issue I am working on…whatever product or tech I am researching. This means that other parts of my life get relegated to the background task section of my brain…almost irrelevant and not worth wasting precious capacity on!

As that near miss has made me realise…there must be a time to switch off…a time to disconnect and move the background tasks to the foreground. Those background tasks are in fact the most important…family, health and wellbeing. I’m still not where I would like to be in regards to being able to balance this out but I’m trying to be better. Better when I come home and spending time with my wife and kids…better in trying to remained focused on them instead of relegating them to the background…better in understanding that work and career is important…but not that important that all else suffers.

I realise the irony in getting this post out while on a flight traveling away from my family for work on my MBP at 30,000 feet…but hey, at least I now recognise that 🙂