Trying to get all the “stuff” done in our lives and still have a life, much less a legacy, is something many call “Work-life Balance”. Let me be blunt: “work-life Balance” (Balance) is a romantic myth.
Like most, Balance was not only a destination I always wanted to reach, but I wanted arrive fully-loaded. I have indeed become at least semi-loaded by many standards: a PhD, several businesses, service to church, 6 kids, 2 grandkids and 1 on the way….I could go on with the professional and personal lists. But when I realized this trip had became a journey with no end in sight, an anxiety meter steadily climbing and gas tank getting really low, I had to stop and think about re-charting my course. Sound familiar? You may even have been-there-done-that.
I talk with a lot of people. Like me, no one I talked to who is striving to achieve so-called Balance seems to be making much real progress toward Camelot. Instead, they are finding:
- A few enjoyable pit-stops along the way (fewer as time goes on)
- A busy highway of life stretching out further than the eye can see.
- The destination in the distance that turns out only to be a mirage
- Another mirage just a few more miles down the road…..just a few more miles
- The destination seeming to be the next stop, but never quite is
The truth is that if Balance is your destination, you never will arrive.
The FastCompany article of similar title called Balance a “pipe-dream”. Unfortunately, the Balance myth has been become so deeply entrenched in our culture that we follow after it like it were the north star. However, Balance is anything but a guiding light. In fact, if Balance is your compass, your destination is anxiety, disillusionment, quite possibly despair or disaster.
Here is the problem: People aren’t really after Balance at all. Instead, people are after what they think Balance brings: enduring success. In pursuing Balance, people pursue process vs product. Unlike product, process is never ending. In contrast, a product is tangible and achievable…..when properly defined. Enduring success as a product, unlike the myth of work-life balance, is emotionally renewing, not anxiety producing.
The concept of Balance has been challenged, tried and been found wanting. The good news is that there is a better way! Although I chased the Balance myth for many years, I was fortunate to not have totally run out of gas or have my wheels fall off (came close many times). In my case, I realized my biblically rooted contemplative practices and worldview had slowly but surely over the years unmesmerized me from pursuing a life of Balance to pursuing a life of passion and purpose. I say fortunate, because the shift in mindset wasn’t a conscious one at first. However, once I became aware I was able to become intentional about what I wanted, where I was going and what I need to do to get there.
Unlike Balance, realistic and actionable concepts for attaining enduring success have been studied and found to function quite well in the Whirlwind of life. The problem is that they haven’t been talked about much. That is going to change starting here. In the next several posts I am going to explore these concepts and associated concrete action steps so you can become more aware.
So, if your tired of riding the Balance myth and want to change, then hop on in and buckle-up. But just remember: while increased awareness can help dispel the illusions and sometimes stupor created by the Balance myth, you’ll still have to act on it if you want to change direction.