Finding The Balance

by | Sep 5, 2013 | 10 comments

Line Shaft

Richard often gets asked ‘what’s the best way for sharpening?’ and he’ll tend to say the best method is the one which works for you. There are countless ways to approach it but so long as you get the result quickly and efficiently then your way’s the best.
I’ve come to feel that the same thing can apply to life; what suits one won’t always suit another but it’s only wrong is there’s no enjoyment of satisfaction.

We’ve talked  a bit in the past about the ups and downs of being self employed and I think that one thing most would agree on is that it’s hard work! Sometimes when you’re working all hours knowing that no one’s going to pay you to have a nice little holiday you get to thinking it would all be easier to find a nine till five and let someone else do the worrying beyond that.

I’ve always been a ‘glass half full’ sort of person (the complete opposite to Richard!) so when I do find myself feeling that way I like to remember that working for ourselves has been our choice. I think one of the biggest benefits it can give us is that continuation of choice.

It can feel that we spend a good 99% of our time bogged down in work, stress and chasing deadlines and a lot of the time that’s essential just for making things work; i’m not going to glamourise it. But that gives us at least 1% for reflecting and remembering that you make the decisions.

Balance is perhaps the most important thing and also the most difficult to get right; too much stress and everything goes wrong but I don’t expect anyone feels satisfied by being lazy. I can envy people who get to look forward to their weekends as a break but ultimately that’s a lot like wishing the rest of the week away.
These are things which we’ve been thinking about a lot lately because at the moment we’re facing some pretty big choices. For us the goal is  to create that balance where work becomes lifestyle and inevitabley that means some fairly hard work along the way. We’ll keep you posted when the decisions have all been made but in the meantime the new website deign is coming along nicely and we’re planning to start increasing the regularity of posts and our videos.

So remember life isn’t like a box of chocolates… it’s like sharpening!

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About Helen Fisher

About Helen Fisher

Helen seeks to explore ways to live with greater joy & sustainability for both ourselves & the planet. Concepts which have led to the launch of her second business We Are Carbon. As the producer of our videos, Helen brings a unique perspective & injects life to our education ensuring it is both a pleasure to watch & easy to follow & learn from. Learn More About Helen & The English Woodworker.


  1. Robin

    So Helen……..

    When will the next video edition of the cupboard be ready?????

    (just kidding!)

  2. Stephen Guest

    Hi Helen,
    It’s comforting hear someone voice these thoughts. I run a small joinery business pretty much on my own. I could probably earn more stacking shelves but as you say despite the constant stress and fatigue it’s preferable to carve one’s own path than commuting to a job with no variety. Although some days I wonder, there’s not much left of the day after the graft, paperwork, supper, a bath and walking the dog. I truly think it’s valuable for oneself and even (dare I say) the health of a society to have people crafting things, keeping up skills which would otherwise be lost and making things of quality. And hey-I can be late for work and take the dog to the yard some days!Keep up the good work. Thanks, Steve.

  3. Paul Chapman

    Trust me, you wouldn’t enjoy working for somebody else. At times of stress, a 9 to 5 job might sound attractive but in reality it’s very frustrating. You have so little control over your working life and spend so much of your time doing things which you know are stupid but that’s the way the boss wants it done.

    Thanks for writing such a thoughtful piece. Hope you and Richard manage to find that balance – I’m sure you will.

  4. Mike Hamilton

    Half-full/half-empty. Much like our hosehold but roles reversed. This simple pairing is a huge step toward “balance”. Glad you two are such complements.


  5. Dick

    Just retired from a 8 to 5 job after many, many years, and sometimes having to do stupid things, and with all the deadlines, stress, etc. While there were many rewarding experiences, especially from working with people other countries, and I do not regret anything that has gotten me to this point, there was still constant stress and uncertainty. I really enjoy your blogs and videos, and selfishly hope you will continue to do what you both do so well.
    An admirer in the USA,
    (also a glass half full person)

  6. Richard Olson

    I retired nine years ago, it is the smartest thing I’ve ever done. If I had know then what I know now I would have retired earlier. One of the best things about retirement is waking up every morning, at whatever hour I wish and realizing that I don’t have to go to work, I don’t have to listen to stupid people and I can tell people exactly what I think of them.

    Balance? Balance comes only during that smallest portion of a second when you are employed and a millisecond later when you are retired.

    One time a few years ago I thought I might get a part time job during the winter months, but then I came to my senses and haven’t made that mistake since. My decisions now are “what will be my next project”. I just finished the small English cupboard.

  7. Paul Rodgers

    Having been self-employed for over thirty years I recognise all the above. The long hours, stress and pressure you put on your family takes it’s toll, that’s of course if you care about what you do, which I guess most of us do. When you are young you can cope with most things and shrug off the long days. It’s only later that you realise that the past is catching up with you. Then one day something happens to make you reassess your life, in my case a stroke at the age of sixty. I was lucky and managed to come through it with relatively few long term problems, apart from throwing a ball like a girl. The one though that kept going through my mind was ‘If only I had listened to people who could see the stress I put myself under’. And the fact that had I been a civil servant I would be getting full pay on my long recovery. Still, I and, mainly my wife, managed to buy a house in southern France where we go when we can and I’m learning to get my work/life balance in better shape but after so many years it’s hard going at times. I now go there and work even harder but it’s a different kind of work, no pressure. I’m off in a couple of hours with a plan of work in my bag !!!

  8. TC

    The optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist, half empty. The engineer sees it as twice the size it should be.
    It always seems greener on the other side. The stability of a salaried job but inept management against the job satisfaction and self direction but instability of being self employed. I’m sure there are many out there who are envious of what you do but feel ‘safe’ in their job. There’s no right or wrong answer, we just try and make the most of our lives and even when you’ve gone, your mark will have been made in the world.
    Big subject, big decisions, good luck with it.

  9. Helen

    Thanks, it’s great to read through everyone’s thoughts and perspectives and good to see so many glasses are half full!
    I’m hoping my words didn’t come across too dismal… we really thrive on our lifestyle here; hard work, stress and all. When talking about being self employed with people in the past I’ve often heard many regrets about the excess of stress and that’s why I pulled in the negative feel about being bogged down – I didn’t want to sugar coat it! I’ve worked for myself for sometime now and wouldn’t ever change it, I think we almost have the balance there but it’s nice to be able to tweak it along the way.

  10. David Nicolaou

    Excellent posting there Helen. I think the thing to remember that as this moment in the workplace there is no such thing as job security and by carving your own route at least someone isn’t gong to come in and say thank you but we’re outsourcing you to china and please pack up and get out. It’s a hard path to follow (as I can vouch for) but ultimately more rewarding than working for someone.

    All the best and ill catch you at the show.


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