I am very conscious of my personal predicament: unmarried, single, no commitments such as pets or houseplants and coupled with this having an all-consuming career as a Private PA to a leading Industrialist. I simply L-O-V-E my job and all that it entails but this can also be a negative in my case. It is too easy for me to forget about trying to carve out a life for myself and immerse myself into my job. It’s a way of forgetting that I don’t have what may be considered society’s norm: a partner, a family of my own or a close relationship with my parents and sibling. Through my job I get that sense of being NEEDED, something every human being wants to feel in one way or another. However I realise the huge danger signs of this. There are others like me, fortunate enough to work in a similar type of role that don’t see it for what it is, i.e. a job and that they are the employee, not a friend or member of the family. It is easy for the lines to get blurred between employer and employee, with the latter giving their whole life both in terms of time, energy and emotion as a form of escapism and a way of feeling a sense of belonging. It is easily done as in such roles the Assistant can become almost an extension of the family due to the close and personal nature of much of the work. However, before they know it, the years roll by, retirement age comes knocking and then the reality hits that indeed they are left with nothing but memories of a colourful and rewarding career but not much else! I may be painting a bleak picture but I am trying to highlight a path I have seen followed too many times and I for one am a prime candidate if I don’t make some radical changes.
A dear friend of mine who for the past 25 years has run a very successful PA recruitment company told me a tale that has remained with me, and it is the essence of the story that is of note. I hope I am able to convey this in words alone. She knew of a lady in very similar circumstances to me, she had a superb role working for Principal of note which afforded her a great lifestyle but she had little else outside of this. Many years later this recruiter was driving along Sloane Street to her office when she saw this same lady huddled at a bus stop in the pouring rain, a former shadow of that vibrant figure she had once known, looking dishevelled and somewhat forlorn. The moral for me is that nothing lasts forever and at the end of the day, we all have to find our own path and take responsibility for our future.
On a lighter note, I happen to have the most unique and amazing boss, who is caring and conscious of the fact I do not want to be single in another decade. With this in mind he does everything in his power to help me find a husband. For the record I don’t necessarily want to get married although finding a Mr Right or even a Mr Compatible would be a good start. I have to share with you that my boss has tasked a Rabbi with finding me a Jewish suitor, which I find quite hilarious. The prize for success in this mission is a philanthropic donation so the race should be on, but as yet I don’t have any dates lined up. When I do I will no doubt recount the tales in future posts.
So this life of a Private PA to a UHNWI (ultra high net worth individual) is best lived vicariously, never crossing the line and adhering to some strict boundaries that should be set from the Get Go.
A few examples of setting some boundaries:
- As a general rule don’t look at your e-mails past a certain point of a night, if you have alerts on your smartphone and you react immediately it is almost like Pavlov’s Dogs and then your Boss will always expect instant replies morning, noon and night.
- Setting realistic working hours from the start to prevent any role becoming 24/7 which will inevitably result in burn out sooner rather than later as this is not sustainable for anybody.
- Make sure you take holidays, it is all too easy to become consumed in the role.
A few examples of never crossing the line:
- If you are at a work function or party with your Boss, remember you are there in a professional capacity so don’t drink too much, overly ingratiate yourself with the guests or wear inappropriate attire that will make you stand out from the crowd.
- If you are working with the family, respect their space and privacy.
- Don’t impose your personal and emotional issues onto your Boss.