Balance is an undeniably noble goal in all areas of life. I’ve been dwelling this morning on work-life balance. Most people bring it up in the context of work interfering with life. In some cases, it is brought up in the context of people we may call workaholics, who find that life interferes with their work (let’s dwell on that another time). I am sure there are those who are able to maintain a fully healthy attitude towards both ‘work’ and ‘life’, however most mortals are not able to strike that golden balance in attitude, and instead try to create a proxy-balance in terms of time.
No doubt there has to be a balance in terms of time that any one bucket of life takes up (and I am now calling work a bucket within life, rather than something outside of life). The lack of personal time or energy for activities outside of work due to long commutes, stressful work environments etc are real issues. And yet, I am beginning to realize that perhaps what makes it worse, is this mindset of work interfering with life, or vice versa.
What this mindset manifests as, is snide remarks about spending one’s life waiting for the weekend, or having to work your *** off to afford that vacation, or resentment about not having enough drive/ energy/ time to indulge in your other interests, the futility of the commute, the fury that is fruitless meetings etc..
Notice the italics again in this last paragraph.. those are words that point to someone who has given their power away. And THAT is a bigger issue than anything else I think. By thinking and talking in ways that mean you have given your power away, you are saying ‘I am a victim of circumstances. I do not have the power to choose or change how my life runs. Someone has me by the collar and I have no choice but to live on someone else’s terms.’ You no more own your own life.
What is the alternative? Quit your job to travel the world as social media is relentlessly telling you to? Give up everything and wait for an epiphany? I don’t know- maybe that works for some people.
But for me, this simple realization is opening some gates: Nobody is making me do anything. I am the only one who has made all the choices which bring me where I am. In fact, I have worked hard to be where I am. I have repeatedly chosen the path that brings me here. Then it’s kind of foolish to complain about being here. I chose it. And I am choosing it every day.
If it is really jarring your sense of self, choose something else. You are never out of choices. You may not be making a different choice because you are not willing to pay the price. But that’s again a choice you are making.
And won’t it be so much better if I own my choices? And own my life, and every bucket in it? That I engage in it not with the attitude of ‘having to do’ something, while I wait for something else, but with the attitude of ‘this is it, this is the life I have built.. let me bring my best self to it. Let me enjoy it fully.’
And with that, something beautiful may happen. With that you open the door for your uniqueness and your creativity to interact with the same work context. When you open your heart to it, it may start to feel more like ‘life’ rather than a separate compartment outside of it.
Don’t tolerate it. Don’t get by. Own it.
Featured image: Clicked Oct’16 at Zermatt