Over a year ago, I left teaching, a profession I loved, because it left me with no time for my family or my own enrichment, so setting some limits in a new role was crucial for me. I took a position that I loved, and passion for it tested my resolve because I didn’t mind working on it after hours and because, to be honest, I get a rush from checking things off a to-do list! In fact, I set an alarm on my phone ten minutes before my day is scheduled to end to remind me (and those around me) that it’s time to wrap things up.
Recently, I was transferred to a different department and had a couple of intake meetings (that felt a lot like interviews). One of the points I was pretty clear about had to do with those self-care boundaries: I will work really hard while I’m here, but when it’s time to go home, I don’t take work with me. My new colleagues have since seen both my dedication to my work as well as my commitment to myself— and have shown a healthy respect for it.
Do I sometimes work through lunch or stay an extra 15 minutes to finish a project? Yes, in a pinch. But two mantras I try to live by: “The task will expand to fit the time you give it” and “Whatever must get done WILL get done.” I’m hopeful that my behavior will be a model for those who need a better balance. And maybe sometime soon, mine won’t be the only alarm going off at quitting time.