Having it all, but nothing at all

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Read how Gaby Hinsliff tired of the juggling act.

Nice article here by the Observer’s fomer political editor on why she quit her job for her family. This seems quite timely, what with the new calls for schoolchildren to be taught a better approach to life/work balance, and to realise that ‘having it all’ can come at a terrible price in personal happiness.

My parents encouraged me to work very hard at school, knowing full well the drudgery of menial labour in factories and mines, but they made it clear that children and probably marriage were not to be on my agenda. I was to have a successful career. And yet the most successful thing in my life is my marriage – the truth is, I’m not very ambitious, and when I was, I didn’t much like myself. My parents were wrong about a career – it does not, in itself, make life worth living. 

Winston Churchill once said: "Find a job you like and you’ll never work again," but he was a man with many opportunities in front of him, and I fully admit to not ever having found the ‘right’ job. In fact I have never got the ‘number one’ job on my list – I’ve always had to settle for the second or third.

This is not to say that I wasn’t successful. In my chosen field, indeed I was, and at one time I earned more than twice the national average, but I have also never had a job I would rather not have had (if someone would just give me the money instead). I have always resented the intrusion of work into my free time, and the endless hours of overtime required in managerial positions. I endlessly refused promotions, as they would have meant spending yet more time at work and away from the people I loved.

All of this makes me a born freelance, who can pick and choose their work place and work hours, and it’s no coincidence, I suppose, that my two brothers and my sister have always been largely self-employed. We all of us prefer to make our own way through life, whether we sink or swim, and this does at least enable us to spend more time with our families.

Anyway, read the article – I’m sure it will strike many uncomfortable chords with those who are parents.   

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