Over the years, I have observed so many people relentlessly pursue this thing they call ‘Work Life Balance.’ For me, it’s a phrase that conjures up an image of me balancing on a tight rope, with work on one side and life on the other, desperately trying not to fall or fail.
The term work life balance assumes that work is a burden, a place where there is not enough joy and fulfilment. And it is only on other side, in the life department, where it is juicy and fun. The term work life balance assumes that it is only in the life department, where the stuff that matters really happens.
In reality, there is no such thing. Why? Because it’s unattainable. It’s not real. Work and life are not separate. They never have been. Work is part of who we are and what we do. We spend more time working than we do any other activity in our life except sleeping. So to suggest that work is separate from life is ridiculous.
I’ve never heard anyone say that they need to work more in order to improve their work-life balance. Have you? This is dysfunctional thinking that ignores the most basic and most important truth… that work doesn’t have to suck!
People who love what they do and are good at it, don’t complain about work-life balance because it doesn’t make any sense to them. People who love what they do are not itching for the weekend or counting down the hours to quitting time. They operate with integrity, mindfulness and flow. They don’t need this artificial sense of balance because work feels good and natural to them. People whose values are aligned at work, at home and at play experience harmony and integration.
In his book, A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Ekhart Tolle states that, “People who are exceptionally good at what they do perform largely free of ego while they work. They may not know it but their work becomes a spiritual practice. They are one with what they do and are fully present to respond to the task at hand.”
What if…instead of work-life balance programs, we started investing in teaching people and teaching organisations how to put people in jobs where they can do what they love. Where they can do the things that come naturally to them. Where they can do the things that make them FEEL GOOD! After all, fish are not meant to climb trees.
What if we taught people that it was their responsibility to find a job that was fulfilling? What if we taught people that they were accountable for their own happiness? You don’t like your job? Try harder. Still don’t like your job? Then leave. You hate your boss? Work it out or find somewhere else. You don’t have enough skills? Then learn. Find something you love to do somewhere you love to do it. Be accountable for your own happiness.
What if we taught people the self-awareness and self-understanding and self-esteem and self-mastery skills to get clear on their dreams and goals?
People talk about their ‘careers’ as their progress at work, their occupation or profession. Do you know what my definition of career is? My career is who I am, the actions I take, and who I want to become. I am constantly working in and on my career. It is who I am, what I do, and who I want to become. It is the burning desire that fires inside my belly to achieve what I set out to achieve. It is the burning desire that tells me to go out and kick some arse, get shit done, and be better than before.
When we are fuelled by Courage, Resilience and Grit, and the relentless pursuit of a worthy ideal. When we want something bad enough that we will go out and fight for it. To work day and night for it. To give up our time and sleep for it. To bleed, sweat and cry for it. And we can do so without the guilt; then we can start talking about living life deliberately and not by default. Then we can start talking about work life harmony and integration, instead of work life balance and separation.