Work/life/outdoor balance

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Obsidianpumice
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Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by Obsidianpumice » Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:45 am

Just thought it would be interesting to see how others in this forum manage to sustain an active lifestyle outdoors while managing the various responsibilities and demands of life. An emphasis on stages in life would also be neat to hear. At what age were you most active and found it easiest to devote time outdoors?

Me, I'm in my early 30s and find it to be a challenge, I am definitely more of a weekend warrior since my job does not enable me to take long vacations. I try to drive 2hrs out to the Sierra every other weekend, also not easy, however I notice I don't feel as happy without this routine.

I think my 20s would have been the best time for obvious reasons, but maybe my immaturity would have meant disrespecting Leave No Trace ethics.

How about you? How do your 20s compare to your 30s? 40s? 50s? What is your favorite, most rewarding decade in the Sierra Nevada?

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AlmostThere
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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by AlmostThere » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:03 am

Everything you do in life comes with a cost. If I valued going to bars, parties, the picture-perfect house, or any of the things my college classmates love to do, I might stick around at home more weekends than I do.

I worked hard to be able to work independently so I could control my schedule and so I was out for a week in May, going out on trail crew for a week next week and backpacking in SEKI for a week after that. There was a period of years where I wasn't out there. I had a miserable time throughout.

I should have worked it out sooner. These days my body limits me more than I like, which happens as you age, BUT, I am not actually so old as all that. I have an autoimmune issue that causes quite a lot more soreness than I used to get, and I have foot issues that have radically altered my footwear choices and mileage. This is not anything I can change. Had I the ability to change the past decades I would have stopped listening to the "wise people" who thought that minimal shoes were a good idea, and started the hiking habit much sooner. I'm not even close to retirement. Fairly easy to predict that there is a finite number of trips left.

Whatever you do, decide to do it earlier rather than later. Just don't decide it's impossible, unless that's really your way to let yourself off the hook and you're not really wanting to do it. The heart calls and you answer, you won't regret that. It'll be postponing til you can't do it that's the real regret.

How everyone manages is a little different - but not even kids keep you from it, if you want to go. There are photos in my facebook feed on the regular of young parents with young kids, backpacking and winter camping (kid gets to ride in the pulk).

Everyone's balance is different. You'll figure it out.

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Obsidianpumice
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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by Obsidianpumice » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:18 am

Great reply and well worth the thread already!

Yes I notice subtle changes in my energy level as I get older, and after a full work week in corporate America there is a strong temptation to stay put, but the effort to get out there is worth it without exception.

I do feel motivated to try as much as possible because of a strong sense of impermanence. You never know what life will bring - illness, physical problems, money matters, family duties, etc.

I sometimes wonder how I will fare in my 40s and beyond. But I get inspired when I see people in that age bracket rocking it on the trail and doing things I never dared to do. Also, even if they merely cycle or run past me in the paths at home!

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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by CAMERONM » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:30 pm

I had to put a lot on hold for twenty years for a marriage, raising a kid, building a business, and obtaining some financial safety buffer.
In the last five years I downsized my company and the number of jobs I take on; delegate work and empower employees so they can easily function with my absences; keep up my fairly intense year-round physical training; and am extremely grateful that I have no significant body impediments. I approach each month like it is my last chance. In my project-based work, I lose jobs or they get put on hold; when that happens, the backpack is already packed and ready to go out the door the next day.
Last edited by CAMERONM on Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rightstar76
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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by rightstar76 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:33 pm

Obsidianpumice, it's not whether they cycle or run past you, it's whether you feel joy in what you do when you're out in the backcountry. That's what matters.

AT has excellent advice. I would have liked to do more backpacking when I was younger. However, I always had an excuse not to, and I regret it. Now, would I have wanted to go every weekend? Absolutely not. There are other things in life that are just as important as backpacking like family and friends, religion, hobbies, and civic participation.

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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:58 pm

Do not look back and regret! You are very young in your 30's and still have many, many years ahead of you. I found that if I kept in good physical shape and maintained a healthy life style, no matter what I had to do at each stage of life, it was easy to jump in and out of the outdoor life (for me it was climbing with an old age transition into backpacking).

I could almost always go out, it was mostly a cost/benefit matter. In college I studied like crazy during the week and took minimum class load to be able to climb on weekends. I worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School in summers while in college, and then full time until I was 27, when having two babies made that impossible. Trading the typical college life and "straight A's" for climbing was well worth it. I took my kids backpacking when they were babies and in retrospect, not sure all the extra work was worth it. I always moved to locations close to mountains. I negotiated minimum three weeks off my job(s) even though that probably put me on the "slow track". That "cost" was worth it for me as career success is only important to me inasmuch as I have to earn a living. I always managed to at least go on one 1-2 week backpack each year. One summer, my teen daughter was back from her visitation with her father, three weeks before school started, and smack when I had a planned backpack- I made her go with me. A disabled granddaughter moved in with me one school year so my daughter and her husband could focus on their other two kids and building their dream house. Come backpack time- back to Mom and Dad! My 98-year old mother has even said, that if she dies during backpack season, keep backpacking- deal with the other stuff later.

When I was 30, I could not even conceive of being a few months shy of 70, let alone still backpacking. I have been lucky with health. I take it one season at a time, and scale back objectives if necessary. I am now retired so time is no issue. Money is a bit tighter so I have to plan carefully and cannot buy the latest equipment. My husband, who used to be my climbing partner, no longer does much (we do one fishing trip a year), but he is OK with me still going out as much as I do. He knew this about me when we met, so it has not been an issue.

My most active "stages" have been "before kids" and "after kids". Climbing/backpacking was actually my profession for seven years; not always that wonderful (plus the pay was terrible). You loose a lot of freedom to do what you want when it becomes a job. I decided after that, I would instead live/work so that I had more free time and made good money so I could retire early.

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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by balzaccom » Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:56 pm

I would worry less about what you have done to date, and focus more on what you want to do now. Every day you make a choice about how you are going to spend your time. If getting out in the wilderness is important to you, you will find a way to make the time. If other things are more important to you, then accept that and live with it.
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rightstar76
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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by rightstar76 » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:41 pm

WD, eloquently written. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. :)

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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:14 pm

I know work demands are different now than when I was working. Nevertheless, if your job does not give you even a one-week vacation, I would simply ask for one, without pay. Every place I have worked pushed us to work more, more, more. I set limits and was not fired. Maybe a heart-to-heart talk with those who are in charge of your work may be helpful. Most work places know that giving employees vacation refreshes them. And if you are working for yourself, then it is your call. My husband had his own business. It is OK to simply put a limit on what your clients/customers demand. Because they will also, demand, demand, and demand. I do not know your situation, so these are just observations.

I really have not been out any more total days in a year since retiring; but the type of trips I do have changed from every weekend to less in the winter and more 7-10 day trips in the summer. What I really enjoy now is that I do not have to drive like crazy all night to get home at the end of the trip! Being able to go out weekdays mitigates the permit problems. So, I would say the two most rewarding phases for me was my late teens and early 20's, and now that I am retired. I also really enjoyed getting back into more serious climbing in my 50's, as a "weekend warrior" and three weeks of summer vacation, even as I had to work. I was lucky in that my work schedule was very flexible as long as I got the stuff done. That meant some long weekdays to get a 3-day weekend.

When looking back, five years missed due to other obligations seems like a short span of time now, whereas, at the time it seemed like I never would backpack again. You really cannot do it all at once, rather your focus will be on different things in different phases of your life. But, it is easy to get stuck in a rut, and you may have to kick yourself into getting back into it after a pause.

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rlown
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Re: Work/life/outdoor balance

Post by rlown » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:33 pm

When I first hired on with HP in July '84, I turned right around and asked for 1 month w/o pay in Sept. (Deer/Elk in Utah.) Then I did the same thing again for a month in '88. I had a great boss.

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