Is balance a myth? At some point in recent history, in the Mad Men worldview of sacrificing our private lives on the altar of our careers, something shifted. The world wobbled. Women entered the workforce. Technology changed the geography of upward mobility. We began to demand something more than money from work. We began to demand meaning. We began to crave a relationship to something bigger, something inspired.
But at what cost? The idea of work-life balance implies that there are (at least) two silos and unless the content is shared equally, it isn’t fair and it doesn’t work. But is that really true? The great personal development teacher Byron Katie requires that we question our assumptions. When we fall back on an easy answer, an excuse for not following our dreams, Katie challenges us to ask ourselves: is this really true — or is this just a story I tell myself ?
Are the twin ideas of “work” and “life” really opposites? I like to think that Sir Richard Branson has it right about work-life balance when he says, “It’s all life.”
Life is life — and whether its running your business, walking the dog, or writing your memoir. It isn’t what you’re doing so much as how you’re doing it. Does your effort bring you joy? Does volunteering at the senior center give your life meaning? Does working 80 hour weeks contribute to your essential sense of joy? If the answer is “yes,” then the idea of “balance” is irrelevant. When you love what you’re doing, you’re not worried about balance. When you love what you’re doing, you dive into that cool pool of inspiration and swim like an ecstatic otter. When you love what you’re doing, you bring that love to all aspects of your life.
This is not to imply that some imbalance cannot be unhealthy. I’m referring to the kind of imbalance that feeds your heart, that stirs your soul, that amps up your life with technicolor zestiness. Asking simple questions like “where is my joy?” and “what stops me from reaching for the stars?” are a good start toward finding the perfect balance for you. Sometimes that balance is 50/50, but more often, it’s on a continuum. Let meaning into your life without measure. Or if you must, measure your million small moments of joy.
Cynthia Gregory is an award winning author, blogger, and success coach. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org