What a work-life balanced advertising career did for me
Is there really such a thing as a balanced career in advertising? Can it be achieved by anyone who isn't a planner? Or is it just urban legend? I'm going to go ahead and answer that for you - Yes, there is absolutely such a thing. It's elusive, often difficult to attain and involves making some hard choices. But, is it really worth it? I'll leave that decision up to you, once you finish reading my post. With that, I'd like to segue into everything that my work-life balanced advertising career made possible:
1. Fewer awards: A copywriter by profession, most might consider what I'm about to say sacrilegious because of the fervour with which adfolk pursue awards but I'm actually perfectly okay having won fewer and smaller awards than a lot of my friends with as much experience as me or even lesser. I believe that work should be judged by its efficacy and by what it does for your client's business, but most agencies and professionals have made winning awards their business (Not pulling any punches here).
2. Personal passion projects: If you're someone who knows me, you probably know that I'm also a musician by passion. I'm a guitarist, singer-songwriter, percussionist and producer with a couple of albums released and out on all streaming platforms (parajsings.com in case you're wondering). I also do voiceovers and compose music for ads/short films, etc. Here's my point: I wouldn't have been able to do any of that, if I'd spent 12 hours a day, 6/7 days a week working at my job.
3. Physical health and wellness: I'm someone who's reasonably passionate about fitness (not to the point of being obsessed with my pecs), but I like to stay in reasonable shape. While I did take quite a lot of breaks in between training regimes, I managed to sustain peak fitness periods for longer than most people do. Would this have been possible if I hadn't insisted on balance? Probably, definitely not. 4. Mental wellbeing: In an industry famous for glorifying the culture of overworking, stories of people having work-stress related breakdowns are almost commonplace. If there's one universal fact, it is that breakdowns are only good when they're in metal/djent songs. What's djent, you ask? Well, that's a story for another day, but my point is that I've had fewer breakdowns related to highly stressful career episodes.
5. Time with family: If there was just one thing I could have from among this entire list, I'd pick this one. I can't even count the number of times I've witnessed one of my superiors call his wife at 9p.m. to tell her that he wasn't going make it for dinner. It's incredibly important for me to be around the people that I love and care about and this would not have been possible unless I was able to strike a balance between work and life.
6. Influencing a culture of balance: Wherever I went, I worked with a ton of incredibly talented people who were beyond great at what they did. But when it came to drawing lines between their work and lives, they either had no choice or weren't very good at it. I'm going to take credit for pushing my friends, colleagues and partner(s) towards choosing opportunities that offered better balance.
Well, there you have it folks! A quick rundown of all the things I made possible by striking a balance between work and life. But, can everyone do it? With more and more professionals and employers starting to understand the value of a balanced lifestyle, regardless of their line of work, I think a wave of change is about to wash over all of us (or at least, I hope so). While I understand that not everyone has the privilege or option to prioritise balance, I implore you to explore its possibilities and put your foot down when you need to. Sure, it might hamper your chances of becoming employee of the year and you might piss a few people off, but are the trade-offs worth it? You be the judge. About me: I'm an advertising copywriter with agency and brand experience with a well-rounded mix of mainline and digital experience. I'm also a musician and voiceover artist with a portfolio of creative work well outside the advertising spectrum which you can find on the same website that you're reading this on. Feel free to connect with me on any platform that I'm active on, and you can find the links to those profiles right at the top of this page.