12 : 23 . Many books tell you how to ‘be the best at this’, how to ‘succeed at this’, but not so many tell you about the sacrifices that go with it, or how to deal with emotional stress. I have three children, a very busy job and I lost my father recently, which was emotionally heavy… How do you deal with that ?
Ian works at the joint research centre of the European Commission in Italy. He also wrote, jointly with his wife Nadine, a book called The Karmic Curve, where he talks about the experience of working for the EU and the importance of finding balance between working life and personal life. (On my personal note, I read this book in one go and loved the fact that it is ‘keeping it real’.)
– The deep emotional truth is that when my dad passed away – very suddenly, it took time for me to come to terms with the loss and writing this book was a way for me to do so. I do now feel the episode is ‘in the past’ because I confronted it but the fact is that, working for an EU institution for years, with my wife in the private sector, we have both had emotional challenges. When you work 9-7, it does mean that you sacrifice time that you could spend on family time and child care particularly. That is a challenge for parents and it can create stress, because a lot of parents wish they could spend more time with their families, but are also career-oriented, which is fair ! Hence the necessity of finding balance. Thankfully, working for the EU institution means having the financial means to take care of your family and the EU also aknowledges the needs of parents, such as parental leave, and so on. But just like in any high demanding job, the work-family balance implies dealing with stress. For example, I cannot predict when my children get ill in the winter. And now I don’t have my dad, their grandparent, to help me on this side of things, or to be there for me if I need him, even psychologically. That is is emotionally challenging.
I think a lot of things in life are situational. My wife and I did not choose to be in this situation but we are learning to deal with it. I simply wish people in our field would talk more about this dimension of our life. What about the importance of our work culture adapting to our time ? Look at the example of women : a lot of cultures have not yet adjusted to the fact that, since people live longer – that should be an opportunity to give them more time to achieve things. Women can have children later and should not face so much stress when having to find the right balance between their family and their career aspirations. There are expectations from us human beings at all levels. This should not imply for us to live more stressful lives, but instead create more space to be able to deal with this stress – and get past it.