Weaving a Well-Lopsided Tapestry

Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved ‘work-life balance,’ whatever that might be, and you certainly won’t get there by copying the ‘six things successful people do before 7 a.m.’
Oliver Burkeman

If you think about it, “work-life balance” is a illogical, irrational and oxy-moronic goal. Balance is about stability AND stasis. Think about it, you don’t want stability! You want dynamic change. Yes growth, but diversity. You want to be surprised with the magic of wonder. Our sense of time is a snapshot that is obsolete once the photo is taken. Life evolves, problems solve themselves, new interests arise, discoveries are made, and new challenges emerge. So balance the past? Crazy. A static model will not anticipate the future and all of the unexpected opportunities that lie ahead. We can talk about resilience, adaptability, and a growth mindset but not “balance”.  This mythical aspiration is worsened by the binary choice it implies. Work is bad, and life is good.  Work is where we lose ourselves and we find ourselves in life. Work gives us stress and life relieves it. Even as I write and you read this, you can see how ridunculous this is!

Maybe you are not old enough to have teenagers while you are caring for an aging parent. Or have a family member with disabilities, while you are going to school at night. Or moonlight to have your own start-up gig. All while you have at least one full time job.  There is no “balance” here. There is only agility and availability. There is only time for priorities and streamlining your ego and your selfishness. Being where you want to and have to.

We need to have well-lopsided lives!

The great imbalance is placing your overbearing needs above others. So when many say “balance” they mean more time for me. Real balance is more time for others and other things! Time with those we love. Time to be pursuing something much bigger than ourselves. And that is the frustration of this illogical challenge.  We can casually discuss all of the amazing things we would do with more time. But that is not driven by altruism or generosity but by our egos and a continuous desire to portray yourself has having the capability and potential to do so much more. 

What again, is physically and psychologically restraining you to have this “balanced” life?

Every tapestry has a front and back just like our lives. We put on a good face and public appearance, but we all know the knots and messiness that lies on the other side. One only exists with the other.[/caption]

Work is not the opposite of life. But life is life is life and work is part of life! Personal can’t be separated from the professional. Trying to decouple them is tantamount to splitting atoms that lead to an explosion. Our time, our lives, our consciousness is woven together into a whole tapestry. But what threads are you using to loom this tapestry? Is it your tapestry?

Not saying you do not put-up firewalls to when you read/answer email or how you carve out “quality time” for your family. But this is using Band-Aids on a cancer of a life, out of sync, out of orbit and out of balance. 

Think of each of your life’s endeavors, the way you consume your time, as threads. Some are beautiful, some are bland, some are thick and some are thin. The stronger, perhaps more attractive threads are different. These threads ae more important, you want to protect them, you look forward to them; they energize you. These are your threads. The threads of your true self. Pay attention to these threads. Research by the Mayo Clinic suggests that expanding and preserving these threads increase resilience, reduce burnout, and lead to more life satisfaction. 

Stop saying you want more balance and evaluate your threads. Re-weave your tapestry with work and life that give you pride, purpose, and peace.

Thanks for reading. John

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