Life doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war between work and life or this ‘work-life balance’
You can’t live it all, unless you can live fully… now.
- Alan Watts
After a couple of ‘slower’ years, life has swiftly shifted back to full throttle. Suddenly, any ‘work-life balance’ we may have regained in our lives (those lunchtime walks, zero commute times and morning pet play) is out the door as we juggle the demands of life back in the fast lane.
For simplicity, let’s consider the ‘fast’ and the ‘slow’ lane as the difference between the following set of well-known statements:
- Do it all vs. Nothing in excess
- Hustle hard vs. Stop to smell the roses
- You can sleep when you’re dead vs. You need eight hours a night
These statements are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One end favours our personal life and the other our professional life. It’s likely what we’re all aiming for is a sense of balance between each, in order to maintain equilibrium. After all, this is what we’ve been told to strive for — this is where safety lies. But what if we told you, that pursuing balance is a lie? It’s a bit like finding out Santa Clause isn’t real, but we can promise you there’s still some magic to it. You see, when we’re pursuing a balanced life, it means we’re never pursuing anything at its full potential…and the magic never happens in the middle; magic happens on the edges. So if achieving balance is a lie, what do we do? The answer is finding comfort in counterbalance. This is how ‘we live it all, and live it fully… now’’.
But how? Well when we focus on what is truly important, we end up at one extreme leaving the other underserved — all work, no life or all life, no work. If we’re striving to complete a project at work and need to meet deadlines, it’s likely we’re putting in the hours and our personal life is left undone…we don’t make it to the gym…we forget to check in with a friend…we go to bed late. But sometimes, leaving some things undone is a necessary trade-off for extraordinary results. The idea of counterbalancing is that we never go so far that we can’t find our way back. We live life on the edge for a period of time but never stay so long that there is nothing waiting for us when we return.
Life then doesn’t become a tug-of-war between work and life or this ‘work-life balance’ — that middle ground between the two. Instead, it becomes a see-saw. When our work goes up, we counterbalance equally with life. It could be taking a few days off after working long hours all week, finishing early to hit the pavement, hanging out with a friend you haven’t connected with a while, or enjoying a long breakfast with family after a late night. Our personal and professional lives are now more entwined than ever, and a counterbalance approach helps us work hard AND play hard.
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