Work-Life Balance Isn’t Real
For most people there is a myth, or Holy Grail if you will, called “Work-Life Balance.” If you haven’t discovered already, this doesn’t exist. But please don’t let this discourage you, because you can in fact live a life of fulfillment that allows for a calmness and sense purpose among the chaos.
Am I saying that once you’ve achieved this state it’s going to be like this every day? By no means! Even the most “put together people” have an off day. To get to where I’m talking about it’s not some type of quick fix or magic tool that’s going to create this light of homeostasis in your life. It’s a skill that takes constant work, and once that skill level improves you will be able to achieve and maintain this type of lifestyle, even when life throws you curveballs.
Think about professional athletes. (I only pick this because they can represent a physical/visible response to adversity, where other areas of our lives are not so clearly seen). Let’s take a PGA Golfer for instance.
If you were to watch one hole of a round, you might say to yourself, “That guy’s not that good,” especially after teeing off with a duck hook that sends the ball through the trees and onto the next fairway. But if you continue watching, the golfer doesn’t give in. Sure he may bump his club on the ground and mutter some “tongue in cheek” reference to his caddie, but the hole isn’t over.
It’s quite the contrary to be honest. At that moment, the gears in his head and even the muscles in his hands start to clinch a certain way as the analysis of how to shape his next shot needs to be in order to advance the ball back onto the other fairway, and possibly even roll it up on the green.
He takes his 7-iron, rakes away some pine straw, finds a clear gap between two white oaks, asks the crowd for “quiet please,” addresses the ball, and takes a calm swing to place the ball 4 feet from the pin. A calm walk up to the manicured grass with a few soft waves and a tip of his bill and he marks the ball with a sure chance of a tap in putt for Par.
Now, if you were to look at his scorecard the hole would appear to have been a text book up and down. Not one of adversity. For a novice golfer that one tee shot may have ruined their whole round of golf. And for the mid-level golfer may have been a distraction for a few holes.
But for the pro, he already accepts that these things are going to happen and rather than becoming floored by such events, he accepts the reality and uses his years of developed skill to simply bounce back and get right back on course.
Yes, I Know Life Is Complex
Sure, I know that life isn’t limited to a few scenarios like golf. There’s lots of complexity that goes on, daily choices that need to be made, people that can’t be avoided, and so on and so forth, that impact your day to day.
However, a large part of why so many people struggle to have a fulfilled life is that their days ONLY consist of a few things (i.e., job, significant other), Netflix options. Don’t you want so much more??
Of course I know the items listed above a very important, but they’re merely a fraction of what this life can and should hold for you!
So What’s Missing?
The first thing you have to do in order to move forward is to assess where you’re at. Where are you in the various compartments of your life and what next steps need to be taken to achieve success in all of them?
As you sit there thinking about it, you may feel that looking into all these will lead to overwhelm or take away time from your main 2 or 3 segments. But I can personally assure you that it’s the opposite. Human beings have the capacity to balance more than you can ever imagine, and once you are able to tap into this by addressing each facet and begin working on them, all other areas of your life will start to fill more complete.
You’re probably shaking your head at this point and thinking, “What else is there in my life?”
I’ve already achieved more than I could’ve imagined. I’m starting on my book manuscript. Making a fresh move to a new city full of opportunity. I’m developing a digital wellness course for other busy professionals with my good friend Lynda Ratliff. And the conference was only 5 weeks ago from me writing this post!
So if you’re ready to be “true to yourself” (credit to Matthew Foster for this phrase) and dissect your life apart in order to put together a new design, then it’s time to take a look inside.
If you 5-10 minutes today, I strongly encourage you to take the following assessment:
This tool will sincerely open your mind in a couple of ways:
1) that you in fact do have more areas in your life to draw attention, and
2) that you have the ability to achieve your highest sought after goals in each area below:
What I Discovered…
Personally for me, I have some pretty high scores in most of the areas of my life. Yet a couple of areas that I often avoid and deny are avocational and financial. My “hobbies” have often consisted of reading business books and ways to advance my entrepreneurial carrier, and financial was more reactive rather than designing a strong game plan with a solid budget.
After leaving the conference the first thing I did was address my spiritual journey, marital status, emotional development, and avocational goals.
I quickly established a daily morning ritual that includes reading my devotional, journaling my thoughts and emotions, and reading intently in my Bible for clarity and wisdom. So you know, immediately upon adopting this new routine my days became more designed for success and big wins, rather than simply being reactive to what life has in store. Talk about EMPOWERMENT!
I then turned to assess my marital status, which was already very healthy even with so many busy things going on. So for this year I have setup some goals to start having 2 weekly date nights (1 out at a neat restaurant where we can chat and critique the food which is a bonding point for us, and 1 night at home with a full flavored meal that will challenge my culinary skills). Like I said, food is a big part of our lives and we have some of the best and even heaviest conversations at the table.
With that said, I still have some work to do on being fully present in the evenings with my wife instead of letting business concerns seep into mind. One thing I DO know is that this change actually starts by recreating my environment and eliminating triggers that may cause work worry to arise. If this particular scenario speaks to you, I highly recommend that you read the sensational book by Benjamin Hardy, Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success.
Another key area I turned my attention to was my emotional development. I’ve always felt that I have a strong Emotional Intelligence score, but I have also learned that while I am skilled at personal and social awareness, the management part has been a struggle.
After diving deep into Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and John Graves, this was quickly brought to my attention and I immediately began to work on identifying specific things that create a strong reactive response and have gotten better at acknowledging the trigger, letting the emotional response pass, and moving on. I highly recommend you assess this area of your life in detail as well. It will have a huge impact on your relationships.
And as for my avocational, I’ve learned that developing the creative part of my brain allows for detachment from other stressors and brings joy to my day regardless of the events that have occurred.
For me I have two fun skills I’m working on: learning calligraphy despite my often “chicken scratch” acquired over the years of academia and note-taking, and learning a couple of songs on the piano each quarter this year.
I’m all about successful tools, so for the calligraphy I found an incredible book by Ashley Gardner, Calligraphy Made Easy. As for the piano, I grew up singing and sight reading music so I wanted something a bit more practical at this stage in my life. So after some searching I found the Flowkey app that allows me to practice using my iPhone, iPad, or Macbook. (Hah…like Apple much?).
All in all, these are just a few areas that I have started to work on this year. Yet while some areas will improve over time, others may fall behind if I’m not careful…so I’ll need to re-assess every few months to keep in check.
And sure, I understand that the events in my life discussed above may be a little bit more than you care about. But I have learned over the years that when a mentor of mine has expressed that they have gone through the same struggles, worries, and other hiccups along the way and were able to overcome these barriers, it really hits home for me.
So I truly hope that you will take the time (start today please) to take a hard look at the areas of your life that not only need to be addressed, but maybe even introduced into your daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual goals!
I am ALL about designing your life and the ONLY way you start doing this is to know where you stand and clearly define where you want to go.
And please feel free to use this post as an outlet and share in the comments of which life segments you intend to work on this year. Spread the love and support to others as well as they start attacking this new feat to create a fulfilled life that on MOST days will feel balanced.
Thanks for reading!
Cody J. Robinson