So much time is devoted these days to discussing BALANCE.
Job postings offer work-life balance. Millennials are said to value balance more than their parents did. Instagram influencers show polished tablescapes featuring cappuccino in an inspirational mug, open laptop with visible well-curated inbox, a few high-end children’s toys, and a plate of avocado toast and call it “Monday.” We can have it all, and we should strive to.
According to Wikipedia, “Work–life balance is the lack of opposition between work and other life roles. It is the state of equilibrium in which demands of personal life, professional life, and family life are equal.”
That sounds great! That’s what we all want. Right?
Hold up a sec, though. What does that mean exactly, lack of opposition? That while I’m doing one thing – spending time with my family, seeing appointments, or going for a run – I don’t feel a pull to be doing something else? That seems like a pleasant, idyllic life, totally worth striving for.
I just heard Brad Stulberg, co-author of the book The Passion Paradox, on The Morning Shakeout Podcast. I’d like to ask you the same question he asked the host: When in your life did you feel the most alive?
Some sample answers I might expect:
- When I went skydiving for the first time
- When I crossed the finish line of my first marathon
- When I made a life-changing, slightly terrifying decision
- When I went to Europe by myself
- When I fell in love
Now I’ll ask what he asked next:
Is BALANCE a part of any of these?
Of course not. Because the very nature of these experiences involves a distinct lack of balance. There is nothing balanced about jumping from a plane, a scary solo trip, or a fast fall into love. That’s exactly why we crave them so much. Once an experience like this lights us up, we feel a constant pull from it, no matter how much we need to be doing something else. And it’s glorious.
Maybe we’re chasing the wrong thing.
What if it’s OK to throw ourselves into something we love, at the expense of something we don’t? What if we can love something fiercely without spending as much time on it as we do on something else? What if all the things we love don’t actually have to take an EQUAL amount of time? What if some of the best parts of life involve freedom from balance?
What would make you feel that alive again? How can you get there?
Are you waiting for permission?