How do I get a better work/life balance?
In May 2010 I felt as though I was in a valley.
My consultancy work with one of the big four international accountancy firms had been taking its toll, and I felt like a square peg in a round hole.
I was well paid but “time poor”. Travelling, working long hours and feeling under a lot of pressure, I was finding less and less time available for the family.
Also, I found myself having to reduce commitments where I’d felt the Lord had previously called me, such as service to my parish, to our parish primary school (as a new governor), the Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference committee in Birmingham, and music ministry.
Holding all this up in prayer, I began to ask the Lord to give me the strength, courage and wisdom to deal with things.
The fear of quitting
Should I resign from the firm? But, oh the risks! I was bringing in 90% of the family income needed to support my wife and two sons (then aged seven and 10), the economy hadn’t yet recovered from the recent downturn, there were fewer job opportunities in my field than in the past and I had little clarity about the way forward… other than wanting to get a better work/life balance.
As I tried to discern, I asked the Lord to simply “come and sort things” and as part of this, I began to ask with, if I’m honest, weak faith “Lord, wouldn’t it be wonderful to not have to even work full time again … to be able to pay the bills but not rely on the corporate world so much to do so?” A kind of a “this would be amazing, but I know it’s an icing on the cake” prayer.
I felt very sure, pretty quickly, that the Lord wanted me to step down from my position but I had no next step lined up.
So I resigned. My senior partner at the firm knew I was a Christian and yet was still flabbergasted that I was leaving without a new role secured – and even more so when I told him I had faith that “everything would be fine”.
Fast-forward five years and today I’m an independent Human Resources Consultant and Executive Coach working on an interim/freelance basis for clients for fixed periods of time during the year, and definitely not working as hard as I was before in “corporate land”.
This has enabled me to get back to areas of service, in particular in my parish primary school as Chair of Governors (a role I love and one which demands a lot of time in order to be effective).
In between various contracts, I’ve not had to work during the last six school summer holiday periods which has been a huge blessing for the family and me. I sometimes jokingly tell people that the Lord has given me some of my future retirement on credit.
As part of this journey, I feel the Lord has reminded me of some important lessons:
- Money comes and money goes, but we only get one shot at “today”. Time, space and simplicity are precious gifts to be cherished and used carefully;
- “Ask and you shall receive” – even with the “big request” prayers, if we trust in the Lord and accept he knows how best to answer them;
- Prayerful leaps of faith open the doors to the Lords benevolence. This is what I call “holy risk management”;
- Change isn’t always easy and there are tests along the way, but when we keep God at our side, we can handle it.
The transition from where I was to where I am now hasn’t always been plain sailing, but I know the Lord has been in the boat with me – God is good!
In my timid prayers of five years ago, I asked for more than I felt I deserved and the Lord has blessed our family with his abundant love and grace.
This article appears in the November 2015 – January 2016 issue of GoodNews Magazine. To discover other great features like this, please click here to subscribe