Many many people speak about work-life balance. This is a concept that has been studied on many levels. As I sit here in my office 10 hours into my work day, with another four to go, it seems apropos to take a few moments and reflect on this “balance” and how is affects my life – how it affects everyone’s life.
Many people ask questions about how to find the perfect balance – how to advance at work without neglecting their family, health, or personal spiritual evolution. When the balance question is raised, they look at ratios of time, priorities, etc.
I wonder if we are asking the wrong questions – actually, I am FAIRLY certain that asking questions about work/ life balance IS setting us up to immediately live in an imbalanced way.
Therefore, I first have my own questions to ask….
1. Why have we categorized our life into “work” and “life” or “work” and “play”?
2. Why have we decided that ambition and career is a polar opposite category to family, leisure, pleasure, health and spirituality?
3. Do we really need to live compartmentalized lives? Is it healthy?
For me, and many others, over half of my waking hours each week are spent at work or with work following me home. The other half is spent on everything else – the “life” category. Do these categories have to be differentiated?
What if I allowed my time at work to be a spiritual experience? Could I slow down and de-stress enough to find the joys and miracles that come in my day to day contact with my staff, the students and their parents?
What if I allowed my time at work to benefit my health? Can I not make sure to walk around, take breaks, eat healthy and calm myself down if I feel my stress levels rising?
What if I allowed my time at work to be a leisure experience? Is it possible to enjoy my colleague as much as my “personal life” friends? Can’t we laugh and joke and console each other, and even share hobbies, etc?
What if I allowed my work to be a family experience??? (Personal disclosure, my girls go to the school where I work, which makes it a partial family experience by default). But perhaps my work could be more of a family experience by my family embracing and understanding what work means, for me, for them, for our community.
What if I allowed my work to be pleasurable? Can I look for all of the wonderful things, circumstances and people surrounding me each day? Can I stop and say thank-you and feel the gratitude for all that is going well (even when some things are not)? Is that possible?
What If I allowed my career and ambitions to be a “life” or “play” experience? It is possible to enjoy what I am doing so much that it would be fun, exciting, even thrilling? Can I wake up with as much excitement for work as I do when I am taking a trip to a new and exotic location?
I believe if we can bridge the gap, if we can stop separating our lives into work/play or work/life then perhaps, just perhaps, this will bring us one step closer to the personal fulfillment we are all seeking.
Bridging the gap could mean changing careers….. it is a question I find myself asking. I want to make a difference, an impact. Sometimes I wonder if the impact I am making really aligns with the impact my heart yearns to make. I question if I should look to find a career that sparks a passionate desire in me, one that propels me to get out of bed each morning knowing that my daily actions mean something profound. I wonder, sometimes, if I should be looking to work at a refugee camp or with children who need so much more, instead of the privileged families who I see daily.
Then I wonder if this is ridiculous – whether I am working with the poor or the rich, children need educating and their parents need support. Is it right for me to ask or question if my impact is big enough to make my career “worthwhile”??? Should I be happy with the current contributions I am making, or strive for more???
As I head towards 40 I am constantly asking if this is where I should be… is it time to head towards Peace Corps or Save the Children or create a non-profit? With the precious hours in the day, combining work and life together, where do I head to build all the bridges and create a fulfilled life?
It seems I have many questions…….. Where are the answers???
Until they come, it is all about the process and the journey…..
Be blessed and fulfilled~