Time in exchange for time

A friend of mine is working in a temporary job. Her temporary boss needs someone just to “be there” at the front desk. There are very little other expectations; she was told she could “bring a book.”

What if, in this situation, all you did was sit there? Not even a book to read? Then you could wrap up your current use of time in this statement: “I sit at a desk at the command of another person from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day in order to pay for how I use my time after 5 p.m. on those days and on Saturday and Sunday.”

My friend does more than just sit there. But there are people who view their time in jobs as “jail time” that must be spent in order to use their “free time” as they want, with the means to do so, meaning surviving (food, housing, medical care) and beyond (travel, movies, material goods, education, philanthropy, etc.).

What makes a job more than just “jail time?” Does paying a person by the hour exacerbate the effects of this mentality? What is the difference between working in a role where you feel “job satisfaction” versus working in a role that you consider your life’s calling?

We see that our “job time” is spent to support our “free time,” but it is also the other way around. We check our work email when we leave work. We stress about a meeting, distracting our full attention from a conversation with a loved one. We work on projects on the weekends. We show up late to a dinner party because work went late. We spend a lot of “free time” currency on supporting our careers… and sometimes buy on metaphorical “credit.”

Where is the balance, and when do you know you are spending your time fully in every moment, so that you never feel you are trading “time in exchange for time”?

Introduction

I have been working on my professional and personal growth for some time. It is important to me that I constantly strive to do better and be better. I found someone who is very talented at coaching who has agreed to be my coach/mentor. We meet every two weeks. I realized that I’ve read a lot about coaching and mentoring – many people blog about coaching as a subject, and how to coach, but I don’t think there are many out there documenting what it is like to be coached. So this blog is an experiment in documenting my experiences in being coached. I hope it serves to help others who are looking to be guided in their professional and personal development, and I also hope it serves coaches to see the impact and influence coaching has on the coached. 

I have had to think hard about whether I should call this coaching or mentoring because they are different. Coaching is focused on performance in many ways, and is specific in guiding someone toward success in their field. Mentoring is focused on life path, which may go beyond the specific career field. So I call this blog ‘Being Mentored’ and will call it mentoring, especially since I feel that my mentor is guiding me in more than my professional development, even though much of the focus is coaching within the professional context. I hope he’s ok with the name… yikes! In this blog, however, I will still use both words. In the first few entries I probably won’t use them correctly, but it will be refined as I move along. 

In our first meeting my mentor asked that I promise to mentor in the same way I have been mentored; to be mindful of my experience so I can do the same for someone else. We also discussed why it is that I want to be mentored. He guided me to the conclusion that I need to have a vision for myself: not what I want to do better, but WHO I want to be. What does that vision look like? What does this person look like, act like?