This post is more intimate than usual. The start of a new year is often a time for making changes, or trying to, but this year, on January 18th o be specific, I nearly didn’t wake up. I survived the immediate crisis but a full recovery will be a life long process. Change must happen. Change takes time, and all change requires putting more or new time and energy into different things and less into others.
The term work-life balance really misses the mark. Some people love what they do for work, for what they get paid to do, so putting large amounts of time and energy into work is probably fine. Those people should probably not be forced to find some arbitrary number of hours to spend on ‘life.’ They will probably resent their time away from what they love. I don’t know; that’s not me.
I fall into a category I believe many do. We have been fortunate to find something we’re good enough doing to get paid to do it, and we like it well enough to excel within our professions. But, while professionally successful, we’re the ones who cheat ourselves from ‘life’ because ‘life’ is where we shelved the things we truly love to do. We end up putting most of our energy into what we get paid to do, often simply so we can continue to get paid to do it.
Sometimes I think I would have been better off finding a job I despised rather than a profession I liked, but I know that isn’t true. I’ve seen first hand what that can do to a family. The resentment, anger, and depression get transferred to the innocents around us, the ones we care for the most. That is not the answer. So what must I do? The plan is simple really; it will be the execution of the plan which will be more difficult.
Declaring I will do more of what I love is not enough. That’s a hollow New Year’s resolution. A false, and sometimes stress inducing self delusion. The way I actually do more of what is important to me, I think, is to use what I love to do as a practice in calm and transition; what some refer to as mindfulness. Creating a strict time for doing what I love as a daily practice, an intentional act of separating myself from work life to real life, has to be the answer.
Why is it so difficult for us to find time to do what we love? We need to embrace the feeling of a child running from the school bus at the end of the day, excited to ride that bike, play that game, or read that book, with no thoughts of homework or chores or whatever. Embrace the eagerness to do what you want, and then do it, everyday.