Having a good and well paid career, that you can hopefully enjoy, gives so many benefits. Such as: providing for your family, buying your own home, owning a nice car, being able to do the nicer things in life (such as go on vacations) and hopefully contribute to society in a fulfilling way.
Home life provides benefits too. Such as:
- Nurturing, educating and caring for your close family.
- Having proper rest and being able to unwind (which is essential for autistics/Aspies like us).
- Having time for enjoyable things such as hobbies, reading, playing on computer games or watching TV.
- Looking after our health through exercise.
Finding the right balance, between home life and work, is called the ‘work life balance’. It is easy to work too much, and not have the time to spend, or enjoy your earnings. Or not work enough; so having plenty of time, but not enough money to use it effectively.
Autism/Aspergers and Employability
For Autistics/Aspies, many of us are on the side of the work/life balance where we would like to work more. But find it hard to get meaningful employment.
The statistic back this up. Research from the National Autistic Society (written in the guardian (2013)) shows that only 15% of adults with autism have full time jobs and 9% have part time jobs. Plus 26% of graduates, with autism, are unemployed. So even if you’re highly qualified, with a degree, there is still a 26% chance you’ll be out of work.
These statistic are terrible, but you can be a success story. Nothing will give you more satisfaction than proving the naysayers wrong.
How Autism/Aspergers can make the Work Life Balance Tough
In Penelope Trunk (2013), it is stated that an adult with Autism/Aspergers, at any age, needs two things the most. One is a life partner and the other is a job. But research shown in the Asperger and Autism Network (2014) highlights that the majority of people with autism/Aspergers only succeed in one of these areas, and not both. So can either do really well in the workplace: such as having a highly paid successful career (that lasts for many years). Or, do really well at home life, such as: having a long lasting relationship, be married with children or living independently.
I believe that our autism/Aspergers makes it difficult for us to do well in both aspects of our lives. I have certainly seen examples of both extremes. But this should never stop us from trying. I am certain there are many autistics/Aspies that can, and do, manage both. I feel I do. The chances are that many of these people don’t show up in the statistics. Although they are as autistic as you and I, they may not even realise they are. So may be undiagnosed.
Believing in Yourself and Your Abilities
One of the biggest issues, that prevent us from succeeding in our quest for a good work life balance, is ourselves. We have built up so much self-doubt and false assumptions over our lives, that we talk ourselves out of trying. This can be overcome.
We also struggle to make decisions so tend to avoid making those choices that could give us a real chance of success, in both areas of the work life balance.
Furthermore, we are risk averse and love routines. So taking that risk and chance that could give us what we deserve, is often deemed as too risky.
There is a famous phrase that you can use when you face these problems. Saying aloud ‘I can, I am’ repeatedly. This means that you can do it, and you are going to do it.
Set Yourself Aims
The whole work life balance thing, is a very big ambition to achieve in one go. Probably impossible. So you need to figure out the steps you can take to get there. Some of these steps could take a few years or more. But you will feel much better if you make progress towards them. These aims could be:
- Increase fitness, so you’re less tired, and can manage a full time job.
- Aim to find any job. Give it a good try, and if you really don’t like it, leave and try something else. But at least you’ve tried.
- Pay off your mortgage so you have lots of additional income in the future. Which may mean making higher mortgage payments each month. Which can be done by spending less money on other things or working extra hours (knowing that this short term hardship will give you a greater life in the future).
- Start your own part time business.
- Make a website, blog or Youtube Channel. Writing about things that are unique to you, or selling your products (which could be drawings or models for example).
- Complete a qualification, that can help towards employment or starting your own business.
- If you’re single, go on dates. Or if this is a step too much try making one or two more friends. Eventually trust in them, and talk to them more. Which will not only build up a good long lasting friendship, but provide you with essential conversational skills. Helping you become more outgoing. Plus they might introduce you to a potential partner.
I set myself aims at the start of every year. I always make each aim something that I can reasonably achieve. Then at the end of the year I look at them, to see if they’ve been achieved. So far I have achieved all of my aims, and it feels good.
Finding Your Work Life Balance
The work life balance is different for all of us. Whether we’re Autistic/Aspies or not.
You may want to live in a campervan and travel the country. You might want to own your own home and have a family. Or set up your own small business, doing something you love whilst getting paid for it. Possibly spend more time with your family, at the expense of earning less, but valuing that quality time more.
Once you’ve got a rough idea, start taking the small steps to get there. Each step will get you closer and closer, and you will get there. It will feel good when you do. Imagine that feeling. Visualise yourself when you have achieved it. Then just go for it. Regrets only come from not trying, and not giving yourself the opportunities you rightly deserve.
Take inspiration from other people that have achieved success. Think about how they probably once worked in a dead end, low paid job. How they could still be working there, if they didn’t believe in themselves and take a few risks. You can succeed too.
- Asperger and Autism Network (2014) http://www.aane.org/about_asperger_syndrome/living_asperger_syndrome_adults.html
- Guardian (2013) http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/08/autism-career-ladder-workplace
- Penelope Trunk (2013) http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2013/10/12/3-things-you-need-to-know-about-people-with-aspergers/