Ciku Family, CikuLife, RandomCiku

That work-life balance

The Balance

Is something a lot of people are gunning for. Myself included.

But I’m beginning to question whether it’s something for organizations to sell. “OH! we practise work-life balance.” or it’s a “new methodology”, you know , kinda like the whole peer pressure going on. Perhaps it’s just something that we are “influenced” to think should exist but in actual fact, you can never have the best of both worlds.

Let me take you down memory lane, on how I’ve started my career in the corporate world.

The Fresh Grad

Well, like many fresh graduate, I sent out resumes to every single company that has vacancies. Vacancies that I was gunning for “Management Trainee”. During my time, that kinda job was the most popular.

I graduated from Economics. So I followed the herd of Economic students and ended up working in a bank.

#thetruthis : My first employer was the same employer that showed my late father the door, after having served them for 30 years.

My late father, being a practical & logical person, didn’t advise me to not take the offer. He even prepped me for the interview! He knew that all I needed was a stepping stone.

My goal at that time: BEGIN A CAREER!

I’ve learned early in my life, while I was working & studying since I was 17 years old that if you are going to do something, do it with all your heart.

So I poured my heart & energy into everything that was thrown at me. I didn’t mind the hardwork, didn’t care that if it required me to stay back, didn’t bother that I need to travel so much, adjusted my personal time around my work schedule.

If I were to say this today, people will tell me, “Ciku, get a life!”

What they don’t realize was… work was part of my life.

The Saleswoman

After spending 4 years in the bank, I took a break. I was then asked by my close friend if I wanted to rejoin the corporate world.

I honestly didn’t think I would score the job because “Ciku in sales??? Are you kidding me???”

Something must have gave me the nudge to try. So I did and I scored the role.

I honestly went in with little confidence. Little did I know that I discovered my “hidden talent”. I could sell!

How I was given one of the “quietest” areas in Klang Valley and could still plant some of our products in.The time when I fought with the other competitors and won one of my biggest cases.

The one thing that didn’t change. I again, gave it my all.

And if you think that I didn’t have a life, I’m here to correct you.

I could squeeze in workouts before & after work. I managed to make cookies for sale while holding a full time job. I attended to my son & family needs when the time calls for it.

#thetruthis: I’m amazed by my own energy. If you ask me to sell cookies now, I would ask you to speak to my hand.

But I didn’t do all of these immediately after starting the job. It’s when I mastered the job, and I know how to arrange my personal time around it. That’s when I started creating that “balance”.

The Baker

I then decided to take a break from my career. It was a break that I needed cos we wanted more kids. (I had a miscarriage.)

And I thought, why not have my own little business?

Now, owning a business is everyone’s dream. A name to something that is big, what’s there not to want right?

But honestly, how many people actually know, how much more time & effort is required when it comes to building an empire?

I haven’t built an empire big enough to call it an empire but I’ve been there.

Owning your own means you have to give it 200%, even when it doesn’t require you to. It’s not just about giving your all.

I was my own Marketing Manager, Sales Manager, Operations Manager, Supply Chain Manager, the worker, the cleaner, the delivery woman , you name it… I’m it!

Of course, I had more time with the family because I was working at home! I had to hug my children with greasy clothes, wash my hands a couple of times cos they would demand me to carry them. Stress myself up cos the cake is in the oven,the alarm would go off in any second but at the same time my children wants to bathe, poop, pee.

When I moved my kitchen out of my house, back in Miri, it was when the real deal came in. Balance? what Balance?

I was out of the house at 8am, back home at 12-1am. Repeat. Monday to Sunday.

I’m not complaining. It was an experience that I really won’t exchange for the world. I cherished that opportunity and wished that I could continue but of course, due to circumstances and family first, I let it go.

#thetruthis: I struggled so badly to find that “balance” that a lot of people are gunning for.

But in all honesty, I didn’t mope about not finding the “balance”. I enjoyed what I was doing. I don’t struggle to wake up every day, even though I only slept for 3-4hours a day. If it counts, I found “balance” in what I did for a living.

The Novice

Having sold my business in Miri, I came back here with one mission and it was to hunt for that corporate job.

Thanx to my guardian angel, I found a job fairly quickly. However, I signed up for a job that requires me to climb mountain after mountain because it is not a field that I’m familiar with.

This is when Miley Cyrus’s song “The Climb” seems appropriate:

“There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose.”

And lost, I did. So many times in my less than 6 months “new career” but it’s part of the learning curve.

Many have wondered how is it that in a short period of time, I’ve spent so many hours working. Are they working you like horses? Immediately, the company gets labelled as “no life employer”.

But in all honesty, it’s me. If there’s something that is constant, it’s gotta be me “Giving it my all”.

I have to admit, I haven’t found the “balance”. No time for workouts (3-4 times a month, don’t count). Heck, I haven’t found my footings in being able to juggle my personal stuff & work. And then many would be shaking their heads and say.. “Ciku, this is bad for you.”

I did manage to squeeze in outings with the husband and some friends after work but it’s not physically healthy because I end up eating late & going home later.

But I’m confident that some day, some how, I would be able to strike that “balance”. It might take a lot more time this time around cos the learning curve is steep but it will happen some day.

Balance, where art thou?

Now, my story here is not about me being the “ideal employee”.

My story here is to suggest, that perhaps we should reconsider the term “work-life balance”. If we stress ourselves up, trying to find that “balance”, aren’t we just adding more stress to the already stressful life?

If we always ask, “Does this company encourage work-life balance?” , if the company is not known for it, would we have given up a good opportunity to be one of the first to create it? Because perhaps the people that you have asked, are people that can’t seem to find that balance of their own?

I strongly feel that the balance is created by our own. The company don’t need to create it for you.

If you dedicate yourself to a job, it doesn’t mean that you have to sell your soul to your employer. It only means, when there’s something urgent to attend to, you will do it, even if it eats into your weekends or public holidays. After all, you are still being paid on Public Holidays.

It’s just like being a mother. We can’t say, “I want a work-life balance” assuming that our children are our “work”. They are part of our lives.

Imagine if you don’t dedicate your life to your children. Your child crying to be changed from soiled diapers (urgent) and because you want that balance, you go… “Hold on ya, let me just finish this bottle of wine first.” on a Public Holiday.

With this, I hope I get asked less about why my company has “no work-life balance” or have people shake their heads when I tell them that I need to work over a weekend/public holiday.

It’s not the company. It’s me.

I do have a life. Work just happens to be part of it.

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