We are bombarded with the myth of work-life balance. It is elusive and actually misguided. Since when did we give up so much of ourselves that we have only two dimensions left - work and everything else? Do we really seek balance?
Years ago, I was working lots of hours, running from meeting to meeting, managing employees, engaging volunteers and everything else it took to direct a membership organization. At the time, I would stop by to see my mother who was suffering from a debilitating disease. She would rest in her bed and I would lay down to visit. Invariably, I would doze off and she would let me rest. Then one day, she said, "You cannot keep up this pace, it's not good for your health." I smugly responded, "I'm not worried about burning the candle at both ends as long as I don't run out of wax." Her reply stopped me cold, "No one will stand over your casket and talk about the meetings you missed." She was right. Even though she and my father worked hard, they understood that there was more to life than work.
Life is about service and joy, and feeding the soul. Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore said, "I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." Everyone has mental, spiritual, physical, and social dimensions to their lives and work cannot satisfy all of them. Robert Greenleaf said, "The work exists for the person as much as the person exists for the work." Do you value integrated lives? Yours and others'?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feed the social, spiritual, physical, and mental dimensions in your daily life?
- Is it a priority to pursue passions that bring you joy?
- Are you energized by your work, finding enjoyment in the projects and the people?
- Do you take your work into your personal life AND your personal life into your work? (This one is usually unbalanced.)
- When you are asked to describe yourself, do you start with your work and title or something more?
What if our need for personal growth was encouraged, service to others valued, work fueled our passion, and personal demands honored? How different could our families, friendships, businesses, and communities be if we abandon the myth of work-life balance and seek something more. What if we choose to be Life-aholics?