Late bloomer

I shot this photo in June – way after the cherry blossom season ended here in the UK. These late bloomers (as we would generally call them) made me realise how cultural ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ can impact how fulfilled we choose to be in our lives outside work.

Society or even our kitchen culture might dictate a very linear progression through work and life. But reality does not work that way. Who can tell when our hearts and minds will open to new possibilities? So what if your most talented colleague decides to quit and train as a baker? Or your head chef looks forward to raising a family alongside running her restaurant? Or the KP wants to work towards a part-time degree at age 55?

Outgrowing our tribe

Powerful words from the teacher Caroline Myss:

It may help you to realize that moving from the Tribal mindset into Individual power is inevitable. Most of us will drive at some point in our lives when the world with which we are most familiar no longer works for us. For some people, it happens more than once. We are meant to outgrow ourselves; indeed, we can no more avoid this development than we can stop the aging process. The only question is how gracefully – and healthily – we will handle the transition.

This message is for you if you are thinking differently about work-life balance after lockdown and have come to the conclusion that it matters more than you once thought it did. This might not be endorsed by those around you, but that does not invalidate your viewpoint, chef.

I invite you to work with it: see what small adjustments you can make to your life that will help you enjoy a better work-life balance.

Why learn to create more balance?

How does learning to create more balance in your life help you as a chef? In a demanding profession like ours, it is not easy to prioritise your wellbeing when it means adding more to-dos to your time off.

There might be times when you show up to work fragmented, unable to fully deal with challenges in your life outside the kitchen, for whatever reason. But what if you were able to tackle one challenge at a time and bring positive change to your life?

At other times, you might be more in control of your life and circumstances, but still feel you have to compromise on the things that matter because of the nature of our work. What if you could make small shifts that really made the difference to the quality of your life?

Most of you will agree that the industry and our working practices need an overhaul. But the reality is that change will not come overnight. What can you do in the meantime?

The Create Your #BetterCheflife workshop offers an introduction to principles and simple strategies that you can use wherever you are in your career. My belief is that the knowledge of how to make balance accessible should be part of your toolkit as a chef and this is the reason I teach this workshop, so it is accessible to everyone.

If you would like to attend the workshop, please book via the link in bio.

Sign up: Workshop 17th August

Love Letters to Chefs will once again be holding its workshop on work-life balance on the 17th of August. This interactive training is designed to help you better navigate the challenge of work-life balance and will support you if:

– You find it challenging to balance various aspects of your life or would like to learn how to do it better

– You fear that seeking balance would compromise your career ambitions

– You are concerned about how you can sustain the positive habits you developed during lockdown

Click here for booking information. Please also share with your colleagues and friends who might also benefit.

What do you consume?

In our age of information overload, it is vital for you to be discerning about what you consume. Especially when you have little time for yourself.

Use it wisely, chef: how you manage your energy during that downtime is key to you enjoying balance in your life. Pay attention to how the information you consume makes you feel, think and act. And do not be fooled by appearances: even words on a screen shared by someone else can pervade your own energy.

Webinar: Rethinking work-life balance in Hospitality

Join Love Letters to Chefs this coming Monday for a free webinar on why we should reframe how we approach work-life balance in Hospitality and what we gain from adopting this viewpoint. During this 30-minute training:

  • We redefine what work-life balance should look like for Hospitality professionals
  • You get to see how balance is accessible even if you work in a busy kitchen
  • Finally, we look at what actions you can take to improve your work-life balance

This webinar will be delivered via Zoom. Please sign up if you would like to attend here.

Keep out

What if you are entering a life phase where you seek the opposite: instead of work-life balance, you strive to keep your focus on your work? Of course, this means that you will need to set a number of boundaries.

To do that, you will have to get extra clear about your priorities. As Cal Newport says in Deep Work, “Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”

I will go one step further and say that the clarity also helps you determine just how you can tend to the other aspects of your life that you cannot give as much attention to. The important thing is to not neglect them, chef, but to do what little you can to nurture those aspects.

Perception is everything – II

Thank you for sharing your views, chefs! As I said on Friday, there is no right or wrong answer – this question simply reflects to you your perception on work-life balance at this point in your career.

I do, however, want to point out that perception is everything. If you believe it work-life balance is a ‘Need to Have’, then you will be more encouraged to take actions towards that end (no matter what your circumstances).

I also invite you to consider the following:

  • If you see work-life balance as a Nice to Have, take a look at your frame of reference for a balanced life – do you measure your schedule against a 5-days per week, 9-5 job? What if you redefined what work-life balance could look like for your own cheflife?
  • If you instead see it as a Need to Have, are you doing what little you can to find more balance in your life? Are there any other steps can you take?

Fear and trembling

In Catching the Big Fish, filmmaker David Lynch says:

“I hear stories about directors who scream at actors, or they trick them somehow to get a performance. And there are some people who try to run the whole business on fear. But I think this is such a joke – it’s pathetic and stupid at the same time.”

“When people are in fear, they don’t want to go to work. So many people today have that feeling. Then the fear starts turning into hate, and they begin to hate going to work..”

Work-life balance is not just about our rotas or the hours we work. Clearly, if our work environment is corrosive, it continues to impact us long after our shifts have ended. As an industry, can we afford to ignore this any longer?