Stop manipulating work-life balance by changing the amount of time we work.
Too often when trying to find a work-life balance I hear people complaining about the time they “need” to commit to work and the lack of time they have left to relax and do what they want to do. More often than not, I believe this to be the wrong way to be reflecting.
We should strive to be working on things we enjoy, things we find immensely rewarding. If we do that, work becomes much less stressful. The less stressful work is, the less time you’ll need to recover. The less time you need to recover, the more time we have to work on things that fulfil us.
This is not to say we, as humans, do not need time to rest. Simply existing places stress on us. These stresses cause damage that builds up over time which needs to be repaired, and our body cannot repair the damage unless we give it the chance to.
Instead of attempting to reduce the amount of time we spend being stressed, let’s reduce the level of stress we face so that we cause less damage. There’s only so many hours in the day. We can only reduce our stress exposure by so much while remaining productive, but there’s essentially no limit to stress-level reduction.
I believe that you can spend every day making progress towards achieving something you truly care about. It will be so much more enjoyable and rewarding that you won’t find yourself trying to reduce the amount of work you do. You might even find yourself wanting to do even more work.
If you don’t believe that you can make a living this way, that it’s too optimistic, too unrealistic, then I hope this article prompts you to really think about that. I find it hard to believe that anyone in the developed world can’t do this.
We seem to value security over fulfilment. Security is great, but what’s the point of being secure if you don’t even enjoy your life? We trick ourselves into believing that there is no other way, but it comes down to being too scared to change anything.
We picture what we want and we see that it’s so far away from what we are so we dismiss it as being too risky. Just like everything else, though, we should break these goals up into smaller steps.
I’d like to challenge you right now. Picture what you want your life to be.
- Where are you living?
- What are you doing?
- Who are you surrounded by?
Write it down, draw pictures, however best solidifies it for you. Then simply ask yourself this:
What can I do right now to progress towards that goal?
Once you complete that task, just repeat that question every day. Once you start seeing the potential, you can start constructing a plan. Define what you will accomplish tomorrow, this week, this month, this year, and so on.
It will be a long process, but every day you will get closer to that goal, each day will be more rewarding than the last, bringing greater purpose and meaning. Endless fulfilment.
Your goal might change with time, and that’s completely okay, I believe the goal is actually secondary, it’s what you’re doing each day to try and get there that is important.
What you do every day is the most important because that is the basis of your work-life balance. Make every day fulfilling and you won’t ever feel like you have a bad work-life balance.