Muddy’s Journal

dear abby: work-life balance

Once again I come to you, my trusted friends, for advice. Here's the (long) back-story and situation:

I have had The House Lust since early April. I usually get a case of House Lust in the spring and again in fall (porch weather), but this year I got it in April and it hasn't gone away all year. T and I live in a great condo that I have been completely happy with for 6 years. I still love it; I LOVE our home.

Yet, I've been fantasizing about a yard, garden beds, a front porch, and a whole separate room with a DOOR for my home office. I feel a little guilty having these fantasies while sitting in my current, wonderful home. Its feelings are probably hurt.

What is my obsession with getting a house? What will it give me that I don't already have, and why is it so important to me? I think I have it figured out and it's pretty grim. Methinks I've fallen victim to "lifestyle envy" and made the classic error in thinking that a location change will fix what's wrong. It's not the home that needs to change, it's me and how I use my time.

If we have a porch, will I really sit on it? Is it the porch I want or the quiet time with T?

If we have a back yard for the dogs to play in, will I really spend time throwing the ball for them and hanging out with them, or do I just want more 'family' time?

If we can entertain at home without bothering the neighbors, will I really have people over more often, or am I just craving time with the people I care about?

Do I really need more space and structure for my home office, or do I just want it to be in its own room so I can shut the door on it and walk away? Yikes...

This has been a tough pill to swallow. As daunting as getting a house (and packing, moving, painting, etc) seemed, making meaningful changes and establishing work/life boundaries in my time seems completely out of reach and inaccessible.

Clearly, I need help. The problem is this: I am a small business owner/operator who cares PASSIONATELY about said business (it truly is my BABY) and I have a really hard time setting boundaries, managing time, and achieving that Holy Grail called work-life balance. I like to feel needed and useful and the business gives me that in spades, so I may be addicted to working. HELP!

Any advice from those of you who have accomplished BALANCE? Ideas?