When I was living (err… taking time off) in Toronto last year, one of my biggest struggles was trying to understand how everyone balanced their work lives with their personal lives. Coming from a city where your life is basically planned out for you, should you choose to go down each path that is made available, I was lost. The next few statements may sound generalized but are all based on my life in Victoria and the people I met and spent time with in Toronto.
In Victoria, most people work a 9-5 because it pays well and helps them buy a car, house and/or vacation. If anyone is asked to work even an hour of overtime, it is not without at least an internal hissy fit. In Toronto, more people have the opportunity to work in a field they are passionate about and, as a result, work crazy hours. But, as long as they are continually fuelled by passion, they do so without complaint.
In Victoria, I can have an entire week of social (and non-social, a.k.a. freelance or homework) events planned by Monday afternoon. In Toronto, however, if I asked someone on Thursday what they were doing that weekend, the answer was usually along the lines of, “we’ll have to see when we get there!”
In Victoria, if someone says they will meet you at noon, the latest you will see them is 12:15 p.m. And they will feel horrible for showing up late. The first time I made plans with a friend in Toronto, I showed up 5 minutes late and waited another hour for her to text me and say she was just getting on the subway. (I saw her 2 hours after our original meet-up time.)
While neither of these lifestyles sounds ideal to me, you can see why I constantly felt frustrated by the lifestyle I was used to and the one Torontarians were living. Until I got it. I had my aha! moment. Victorians work to live, while Torontarians live to work. (Again, I know not everyone in each of these cities is like this, but hear me out…)
When I came back to Victoria, I was finally able to recognize some of the reasons I originally fled. I needed a (big) change. I was longing for an adventure. And I wanted to have some fun. But, more than anything else, I was sick of my routine. I was tired of going to my 9-5, living paycheque-to-paycheque and planning every night of my life a week in advance. I needed those Torontarians to turn my life upside-down.
In doing so, Toronto also showed me the things I know I want in my daily life. Friends who laugh with me (and at me) and who constantly make me smile. A job that fulfills me. Spontaneity. And the ability to celebrate anything and everything, just because I want to.
I had forgotten about most of those lessons, until a few weeks ago. While I came home inspired in May, I was back to my old routine by June. And I’ve been so caught up in work, homework and my side jobs, that I can honestly say I don’t remember huge chunks of the last few months. Seriously… what have I been doing with my time!? Blogging at home, while avoiding spending money. That’s it.
And then I started going to the gym. It would be silly for me to say that only a few weeks of going to the gym has changed me… right? Well then call me silly, because it has. It’s taking some getting used to but the extra energy that exercising gives me has changed so many things in my daily life. I procrastinate less. I cook more. I say yes to things I used to say no to (usually more exercising with friends). And I take more time for myself, when I know I need it.
It’s helping me find my balanced lifestyle. A mix of living to work and working to live. Don’t get me wrong, though… I haven’t found my balance yet! My sleep schedule is off, I often forget to check (or write on) my blog, and some days I can’t find a positive in any situation. But I’m getting there…
What does your balanced lifestyle look like?