by Sabina Metcalf
These days, the concept of a work/life balance, which means continuously segregating your work and life, is often referred to as archaic. There is hardly ever a clear distinction between the two; in recent years and within businesses worldwide they mold and blend into one to create truly rounded and successful individuals. Our work has become the manifestation of our interests and intellectual pursuits but also the barometer by which we measure our personal success and fulfillment. Social media and Internet news sites significantly contributed towards shifting the context of work as a separate part of life. As technology progresses and changes at breakneck speed, we observe how people evolve and change too to keep pace with these new developments.
No longer do we find the differentiation between work and life necessary. Technology certainly gives us more freedom and flexibility but it also encroaches into what used to be our personal time. Being at work has become our state of mind. The best we can do is to make our work reflect our personal interests and skills.
Following in the footsteps of Katharine Hepburn, translators and interpreters worldwide have long embraced the notion of turning your interests into your source of income. Often, what starts in your childhood as a “language bug” snowballs into a profitable business, a job that helps you satisfy an insatiable appetite for knowledge and the new worlds that open every time you dig into a dictionary. I mentioned in my previous post on “Delightful Oddities” how learning a new language makes us experience a state of giddy bliss every time we discover how the language opens yet another door into the unknown: new culture, interesting people, and great literature. As we master another language, we shape it into our own toolbox that we will use for years to come – later it will form our identity and help us reach out to others.
In this digital age, our hobbies such as reading and writing, our skills like communication and marketing, our passion – languages and people, and our occupation (translation and interpreting) seamlessly blend into one hopefully harmonious personal brand. We spend time working on making this brand recognized and appreciated by the linguistic community worldwide. Our work is our passion, and if we are committed enough, we can all turn our interests into our source of income.
The workplace landscape is also changing from the usual 9-to-5 to a more flexible approach of conducting business regardless of our location. A collaborative research and development project led by the Global Ideas Shop (gyro) and Forbes Insight, which included interviewing 543 executives and decision-makers, reported that just 3% of the survey respondents said that they didn’t send or receive emails while on vacation. Only 2% of them said that they never worked weekends or nights, and more than half the respondents (52%) reported that they receive information related to business decisions round-the-clock, including weekends (as depicted by the project’s engaging infographic).
It is not surprising that higher flexibility comes at a price: we check our emails long after traditional work hours; we respond to customer requests in the middle of our family dinner; and we are wired to our iPads during gym sessions and outdoor activities. The freedom and flexibility offered by greatly available technology is even more prominent for women: despite years of suffragette movements and feminist rhetoric, women around the globe often feel that they are forced to choose between their career and family. However, with the blurring of lines between the personal and the professional, it may no longer be a question of choice, but rather an ability to manage your time.
By being able to carefully juggle numerous family commitments, school runs, and work deadlines, we gain wider access to the business world. In the words of the great studio executive and comedienne Lucille Ball (another woman!), “if you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” If we are engaged in other areas of our life, we become even more engaged in our work. Information is power, and we certainly feel more empowered when we alter our schedules in order to accommodate the constant flow of digital data.
If you want to do a job, you sit through your 9-to-5 and leave your work behind as soon as you step away from your desk. But if you want a career, you strive for personal development, for incorporating your personal interests into your professional image, and most importantly, doing your best at what you love with all your heart. This will guarantee that not only will your productivity increase and your business develop, but you will also grow as a person.