Juggling an event career and a personal life
Balancing your work life and your family life is a common challenge in any type of industry. With over ten years in the service industry, I can vouch for the struggles that many face. However, event careers (venue managers, event planners, meeting planners, conference organizers, and the like) often present uniquely stressful challenges that make striking a balance all the more difficult. With everything an event professional’s job entails, it’s often a struggle to find a compromise between work objectives and family responsibilities. Crazy schedules, last-minute changes, and lots of travel can take its toll on an event professional’s family and home life.
Event career = Not your typical 9:00-5:00
It’s no secret that professionals in the event industry live hectic and ever-changing lives. Schedules and routines are constantly changing and balancing your workload and family life can be a stressful challenge. Not everyone is equipped with the tools and skills to emotionally deal with the inconsistent schedule of an event professional. It takes somebody who can handle stress well and adapts to change easily. It often takes someone that you might consider a control freak.
For many, stress at work is the one thing they wish to avid more than anything else. Many times event professionals view stress differently. Not that they desire stress, but they view it as a sort of electricity that helps them prioritize important tasks. As an event draws closer there is simply not enough time in the day, but they can often use the pressure and stress of their commitments to prioritize tasks and come out a winner on the other side. When that time rolls around, your family and loved ones are the ones who really suffer.
Unfortunately, often times families are not as well equipped as the person in the event career to cope with these components of the job. This means finding routines and mechanisms that provide balance are all the more important.
Misunderstandings and Misinterpretations
While a family may know the challenges of an event career, sometimes it’s hard for them to accept it and truly understand the rigors of this line of work. When big events pop-up, event professionals will often focus the majority of their attention and emotional bank account on the particular project at hand. This could cause family to become upset if they don't understand timelines or milestones for these kinds of projects. It’s even possible for them to become jealous of the attention work receives.
In reality, the world of events often pulsates. Some times are busier than others. This means when event professionals are heads down on a big event they should communicate the timelines and expectation of these kinds of projects clearly. Help families understand when they can expect to see the work load lighten. They want to know the truth and that you are still thinking of them even when work is consuming a lot of your time.
Managing Daily Changes
As an event nears, the bigger challanges become more demanding. It’s hard for event professionals to pull themselves away from work. Tasks at home and chores often get pushed aside and loved ones have to pick up the slack. If this change in the routine is discussed with loved ones prior to the event, families will have clearer expectations of what is to come and will be less likely to feel slighted. It's also important to gradually merge back to normal routines after an event so that loved ones don’t feel like you’re “taking over” something they became accustomed to doing on their own.
Clear and Open Communication is Vital
The key to good relationships with your friends and family is clear and constant communication with everyone. Every family member and loved one will be affected differently. Be sure to keep an open line of communication with loved ones so they can learn to understand and accept how your work life operates. They want you to succeed and your job should not only give yourself fufillment at the close of the event, but your family should celebrate your wins (and sometimes losses) with you.
You must communicate what is currently going on and what could happen in the coming months so that you and your family can be prepared to generate a strategy to overcome the challenges. Each family situation is different and has its own circumstances and challenges that can be overcome as long as you maintain open communication about your job and schedule.
Get Your Family Involved
One of the unique and fun things about being an event professional is the ability to get your family involved with your work. Children usually want to be involved in what their parents are doing and in the event industry there are always little, tedious tasks that you could always use help on. Ask your kids or loved ones to help you do the simple tasks like sorting materials, counting swag items, alphabetizing name badges or some other piece of work. This allows them to be more involved in your work life and understand the kind of work your job entails. Not only will your kids and loved ones feel more involved, it will help you build stronger connections and gives kids an opportunity to learn new skills.
If having your family help you with your work is not an option, there are other methods to keep them involved in your work life as well. If you are planning a local event, bring them along during set-up so they can see where and what all your time and effort have gone into. Even better, if the event is local and open to the public, have your family attend the event so they can really appreciate the effort you put into making events memorable. Send extended family postcards and photos from the places you travel and events you manage to keep them involved with what you are working on. Make plans after taking trips to have a get together with friends and family to connect and catch up. Also, don’t forget your pet…they need some extra cuddles and lovin' when you’ve been gone or too busy!
Take the Time to Kick Back
Event professionals have a stressful enough job as it is but don’t forget to take the time to kick back and relax with your family. Plan a yearly family vacation to disconnect completely from work and spend time only with your family. If a vacation isn’t feasible, take a day off during downtime at work to do something special with your family. Set specific hours and places to work so you don’t waste time at home working and not spending time with your family. Stay organized and be sure to prioritize and manage your time wisely.
The Wrap Up
It takes time and commitment to be able to balance your personal life with your event career. Manage your time wisely and keep clear and open communication with your loved ones. Discuss your schedule with your family and friends and plan for the upcoming changes. Involve them in the aspects of your job that you can use their assistance. As long as your family knows you are thinking about them while you are working the crazy hectic schedule, they will support, love, and accept the way your life works.