Going back doesn’t mean reversing course

Note: This column was originally published April 3 in The Kentucky Standard here.

It’s good to be back.

Forrest BerkshireMonday was my first day as editor at The Kentucky Standard since early November. I left for the right reasons, and I came back for the right reasons. Life is complicated like that, and it is rare that you get a second chance at an opportunity, so I count myself lucky.

I am lucky for several reasons, too numerous to list in this space. But my time away gave me a chance to reflect on a few aspects related to work and life that I wanted to share.

Work-life balance

Some of us are fortunate enough to have a career we are passionate about. For me, it’s journalism.

Your work can give your life purpose, but it doesn’t have to define you. Anyone who is passionate about their work has probably made personal sacrifices, big and small. We miss dinner with the family a little too often, or skip a child’s soccer game or school presentation. We tell ourselves it’s because the work we are doing is so important, or we feel that if we aren’t there pitching in, it won’t get done “right.”

The main reason I left was to try to find a better work-life balance — less responsibility, more regular hours and the ability to just walk away at the end of the day and not worry about the job until the next morning. And I found it. But I tipped the scale too far the other way. My work had no personal meaning. I was just living for the weekends and evenings and, while they were enjoyable, my days were empty.

Too often we think it has to be one way or the other. But really, both sides of that coin are the easy ways out. I believe it is possible to find meaning in your job, do it well and still have a life outside of work that is personally and spiritually enriching. It’s just a matter of working on it.

New experiences

I had done the journalism thing for a long time, and I spent five years working for the government, but I had never done the big corporate gig.

It wasn’t for me. But I would have never known that had I not tried it. I’ve lost count of the number of people who know me well who told me after I called it quits that they weren’t surprised that I decided to come back to journalism. Makes me wish they had mentioned that before, but I probably wouldn’t have listened to them anyway.

Change is hard, especially the older you get. But I’ve always adapted well to it, and while that change wasn’t for me, I think I gained some new perspective and insight into myself, both professionally and personally.

Probably all of us have made significant changes and decided they were the wrong decisions for us. But new experiences are good for us; they broaden our view of the world. Changing your mind and going back doesn’t mean you have to reverse course. If we take the positives from what we learn from new experiences and apply them to our lives, then the time was well spent.

Appreciate what you have

We often spend too much time focused on the negative aspects of a situation and don’t appreciate the good side until after we have left it. That can range from the city you live in to the relationship you are in to the job you hold.

It’s human nature to take things for granted. It would probably do us all well to stop and concentrate on the good things going on in our lives. You might be surprised how many things you are missing, until they are already gone.

So I am back at my old position, but I don’t think I am the same person. I will be a changed coworker, editor, husband and father. I am just grateful to be back at this newspaper and back as a part of this community, and am looking forward to the road ahead.