I’m well and truly back now into my usual life, work role and home and it’s so busy, as usual!
When I was away, everything was new: new job role, new people in my life at work, new place to live, new places to enjoy, new restaurants, new wines, new towns. It was all new, new, new and there was so much to photograph, to write about, to reflect on plus time by myself to do it.
Now I am back to long work days, my familiar work-team, my home which I love and back to being closer to my family and my little old dog.
Like all experiences that take you away and bring you back, you do not return unchanged. I worked in a higher level position that gave me more experience and confidence in my ability; I often yearn for time alone and enjoyed it but I found that it is very much about what I choose to do with my time that makes the difference; I am loving where I live more for having been away; and I am valuing those around me more, having missed them and re-appreciated what they give me and what we share.
It’s also not without its challenges though coming back: it’s full on, long work hours, some challenging roles and tasks, more travel each day which now feels longer and not as much time as I would like to enjoy where I live.
A conversation last week with a family member last week was a little tense; it was about their new life choices and ended up also somehow being about ours. In the wash-up of the conversation, I found myself saying, ‘I love the work that I do, I love where I live’. And it is true, I do love my work and I love where I live and these two things make up a critical part of my life. In coming back, in all its busyness, it’s been a time of quietly reappraising both.
Especially in relation to my work role and the satisfaction that I gain from it, some thoughts from Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking‘ has been of immense value in settling back meaningfully into all this busyness.
The first thought is about finding your “sweet spots”:
Once you understand introversion and extraversion as preferences for certain levels of stimulation, you can begin consciously trying to situate yourself in environments favourable to your own personality – neither overstimulating nor underestimating, neither boring nor anxiety-making. You can organise your life in terms of what personality psychologists call “optimal levels of arousal” and what I call “sweet spots,” and by doing so feel more energetic and alive than before. (p124-5)
It’s about being optimally stimulated, aware of this and setting up your work, interests and social aspects so that you are in the sweet spot. I love this thought of crafting your life with some awareness to make the most of moments and modulate the inputs. It also makes me appreciate the value of my working life as an integral part of what stimulates me: the strategy, the creativity, the innovation and the writing it entails every day; they are all activities I love and value highly.
Related to this and especially to the concept of introverts who love their work is the concept of flow:
…an optimal state in which you feel totally engaged in an activity….The key to flow is to pursue an activity for its own sake, not for the rewards it brings. (p172)
Introverts especially are encouraged to find their flow by using their gifts such as persistence, tenacity and clear-sightedness and to value their talents. It’s as if we are encouraged to lose ourselves in the flow of our own applied talents, rather than to be so busy in comparing ourselves to others or to see this as work per se. I am finding this a valuable thought as it is so easy to underplay one’s own style and strength in a busy environment:
So stay true to your own nature. (p173)
It’s a useful thought as I come back to craft a new everyday.
What are you doing to create a new everyday? I’d love to hear!