I felt the life drain out of me when I worked 40-hr/week office jobs.
I lived on the other side of town so my commutes sucked. On top of that, no matter how much effort I put in to create expansive opportunities to thrive at the job, something was still very off.
The jobs, in and of themselves, were good jobs. But I wasn't the best fit for them.
My body was there, but my mind and heart were elsewhere. This dissonance affected my sleep. It contributed to my stinky morning moods. But I wasn't ready, nor in a position to, resign just yet.
I thought about this long and hard. I shared about it with trusted confidantes, including a colleague in another department.
I had a teary-eyed breakdown in front of her. I just didn't know what to do.
Then she asked me a powerful question: “Valerie, why don’t you propose a 30-hr per week schedule instead of 40?”
My mind was blown. The idea had never crossed my mind. I didn't even know I could do that.
I immediately felt relief at the suggestion. So I ran with it...in steps.
Step 1: Confirm the Financials
I had recently been granted a promotion so I was already earning more than I had been a few weeks prior. I calculated expenses and income to make sure that a 30-hr/week income wouldn't be shooting myself in the foot. My findings: I could afford to bump down to 30. And even if the numbers didn't pan out favorably, I knew how I could earn the difference doing work that was more in my wheelhouse.
Step 2: Collect Data
For 2-3 weeks straight, I kept a daily log of how much time I spent fulfilling my duties and responsibilities. From the time I sat at my desk to the time I left for the day, I accounted for every minute. If I was going to ask for a reduction in hours then I chose to provide undeniable justification for it. My findings: It took me 30 hours per week to do my job. Not 40.
Step 3: Make the Request
I showed my manager that I only needed 30 hours to fulfill my duties. I made the case that for me to be there longer was inefficient and an unnecessary expense on the department's financial resources. I didn't make the request about me. I did not say, "I really don't like these commutes. I'm not sleeping well. And I'm feeling depressed." I focused on the value my request would bring to my employer.
Step 4: Enjoy It
My 30-hr request was granted. I worked 6 hours a day instead of 8. My schedule rotated between 10am-4pm and 11am-5pm instead of 9-5 and 10-6. Yes! I felt mad gratitude to my colleague who made the suggestion. I appreciated my trusted confidantes in holding space for me to process my desire. I thanked myself for following through on this act of personal care and wellness. My mornings were no longer filled with stinky moods. They were glorious. I filled that time with edifying activities, including taking action to build my business.
This experience taught me that I didn't have to adhere to other society's expectations of what a work schedule should look like.
This experience taught me that I could be a great employee AND prioritize my well-being.
In fact, I am a great employee BECAUSE I prioritize my well-being.
This experience taught me that so much more is negotiable than I can imagine.
What do you need to negotiate in support of your well-being?
I help professionals experience vitality at work, and beyond, by prioritizing their personal wellness.
Contact me if you're ready to live like this.
My name's Valerie and I'm a Certified Life Coach with a background in teaching dance as well as facilitating diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development conversations and workshops.