"Maybe so," he said, "but remember that relationships are the most important thing in life. When you look back on your life it's not the work you did or the accomplishments that will be the best memories. It will be the time you spent with people that you love and care about."
That shocked me into a realization. Although my relationships are the most important thing to me, it seemed I was spending a lot more time "doing stuff" and not enough time with other people. My actions and my heart weren't in alignment.
Since then, I've made an effort to get things right. I've had to drop some activities, and it looks like increases in my work responsibilities will require me to scale back on my voluneteer activities. I'm not happy about this, but I know from experience that life can change (and change quickly), and I have no fear that the season of my life will change and make it possible for me to resume these things in the future. I've also put limits on how much time I spend on my writing. I figured that when I'm working on a project, I can devote about 2 hours a day without too much disruption to my home life, work life, or other things I want/need to do. This has actually worked out to be more productive for me, because before I was on the computer every night, trying to write and chase down promotional opportunities. Limiting myself to 2 hours a few nights a week forced me to focus my efforts, and I've actually been much more productive. And yes, I do even have "no laptop" nights, when I put it away after work, or don't take it out at all and spend time on other things.
Looking back over my life so far, I realize already that he was right. I know I have a purpose to fulfill, and I still love my writing, hobbies and church work. But the times that stand out in my head aren't work - they're experiences I've had with others. Time spent with Rick and the birds, with family and friends, at church and through social interactions with my colleagues. The best things are more about the "who" and less about the "do."
I have to admit that it was some of the best advice I've ever had. I'm not so stressed out anymore because I'm not literally working away every minute of every day. Because even if you love the work, there's no joy in constant labor. The joy is in balancing things out, and unless you nurture your relationships then there's no way anything else is going to work out well.
That's all today. Busy week with business travel, so it will probably be next week before I can update again. Take care and have a good week.