Mother-of-two Liza Bennigson discusses finding pleasure at work in this post originally featured on Medium.
Whoever advised against mixing business with pleasure must not have loved his or her job. What if your career is something that makes you happy, helps define and inspire you, and gives you purpose? What if business is pleasure?
Don't get me wrong, there are many things outside of work that also make me who I am and give me unbridled joy. I am a loving mom of two, a devoted (if not domestic) wife, and loyal sister, daughter and friend. It is in mixing business with pleasure, though, that I find balance and feel complete. Most of the time.
Yesterday morning, I happily exchanged my mascara and MacBook for yoga pants and Elmer's glue, to volunteer in my son's kindergarten classroom. We made hand turkeys with construction paper feathers and googly eyes. For 45 whole minutes, my mom-guilt dissipated, and I felt fulfilled.
This morning, at the exact same time, I arrived at my startup's co-working space in Silicon Valley, to meet with the Vice President for Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University, Andy Chan. We spent over an hour excitedly talking about trends, innovation and technology affecting the university, alumni and recruiting markets. We brainstormed a pilot program for Wake Forest West Coast and my company, KonnectAgain. I drank too much coffee, and felt smart.
The transition from mom to startup mode isn't always this smooth, however. There are days when a kid is sick or has no school and I have meetings or deadlines. I occasionally forget the "don't yell, just tell" policy I established after skimming Parents magazine at the doctor's office. Today, I fell asleep on the train and woke up one stop too late. But I still wouldn't trade it for anything.
Forbes' #3 Workplace Trend for 2016 is an increased focus on workplace flexibility. In a world where wearables are the new normal and we are constantly connected, you'd better love what you do. Flexibility comes at the cost of rarely shutting off. I have to consciously ignore incoming emails and Slack messages in order to be more present at home.
But that same flexibility is the reason why I am able to find so much joy in what I do. I get to walk my kids to school every morning (as long as I send a few emails while brushing my teeth). I get to have lunch with an old colleague (if I write that proposal after the kids go to sleep). I can run to the grocery store when we run out of toilet paper, (and finish that blogpost before bed). It's not uncommon for my husband and me to spend a romantic evening eating leftovers by the glow of our laptops. Sometimes, a glass of Chardonnay helps cure writer's block.
I work an extra hour so I can pick the kids up early tomorrow. (Or maybe take a nap). I wouldn't have it any other way.
Liza Bennigson is the director of business development at KonnectAgain, an emerging alumni engagement software for corporations and universities. She enjoys writing, running, travel, and dance parties with her kids. Check our her Twitter and LinkedIn pages for more info!