I started blogging almost 12 years ago. It kicks me back a little to type that sentence out, but it’s true. The first blog I ever had was hosted on Livejournal. Since then I have kept several different web spaces for jotting thoughts, ideas, and storing original context such as prose, poetry, and most recently photography. Then I discovered podcasting.
My current blog, which is am archival space for my podcast, Life Work Balances, started in February 2012. In June of 2011, I left my full time job and had no immediate prospects on the horizon. I filed for unemployment insurance, moved into an apartment with my partner, and started trying to figure out what I was doing with my life. Because paying for cable TV had not been a part of our monthly expenses (since I was working in residence life as a live in professional), we decided not take it on as one, and started looking for other forms of (preferably free) entertainment. We quickly found that the iTunes store was chock full of interesting, funny, smart people putting hours and hours of free content into the world, and after a while we were listening to 3-4 hours of different podcasts every night.
By October I started to think that maybe this would be something I could do, and spent the next few weeks trying to decide what I could possibly talk about. It hit me one day that I always got a great deal of energy from the after-hours conversations at conferences, when everyone was sitting around chatting, catching up, and meeting new people. So I started to think about the ways that I could make those conversations happen.
While this was going on, I was spending a lot of time talking to people about why I no longer had a job, and what I was going to do. I found myself getting more and more frustrated, rehashing those various circumstances over and over again, to the point where I would be exhausted every day just from talking to two or three people. So when I got to that point, I started to ask myself “what re-energizes me? What do I do to feel better when I am drained at the end of a day?” And that was when it came to me. I decided that I would sit down with people that work with college students, ask them how they got to where they are, and what they do to unwind, de-stress, and rejuvenate. I figured at the very least, I could have a few people help me figure it out for myself, and have a few good conversations with new and old friends.
Since then, it has been an amazing ride. I’ve published 65 episodes, most of which last 60+ minutes, and have interviewed Deans of Students, Directors of various departments, and new professionals. I recently hosted a live version of the podcast at the ACPA-College Student Educators International’s annual conference in Las Vegas. A panel of 4 student affairs practitioners, one entry level, one mid-level, one senior level, and a higher education faculty member, talked about how they got involved in ACPA, what leadership positions they have held, and how they maintain a sense of balance and energy during hectic conferences. The process has also meant a great deal to me. I quickly learned that balance is not something that we can check a box and complete, but rather something we need to put out own effort into every day. It isn’t something that anyone can tell you how to achieve, but a process we figure out for ourselves. I’ve also learned that, for me, these conversations give me enough energy to get through the most difficult days. They have kept me motivated through unemployment, as well as through a difficult first year of a PhD program. It has meant a great deal to me, and it has helped me to connect with a lot of people that I may otherwise have never had the chance to meet.
I started doing the podcast because I was hoping to have some good conversations with other people, and maybe contribute to a larger conversation that goes on within my professional world in my own unique way. Along the way I started hoping that other professionals would identify with it, and maybe even start to participate in the conversation in their own way. Maybe we can chat about it sometime soon.
Doctoral Student, Leadership Studies Program, University of San Diego
You can visit LIFE WORK BALANCES at lifeworkbalances.wordpress.com
You can follow LIFE WORK BALANCES on twitter @LWBPodcast
You can like LIFE WORK BALANCES on facebook at facebook.com/lifeworkbalances
And you can email Conor at email@example.com