September 1, 2023
Work/Life Balance
From a very young age, we're indoctrinated into a system that emphasizes the purpose of productivity. The purpose of doing the work now to be able to get the job, the career or the lifestyle that we want in the future. Whether it be homework, studying, extracurriculars – all of it has to serve the larger purpose. And so, then our sense of purpose becomes intertwined with what we do for a living and our feelings of self-worth. So, now, your pleasure has to also somehow feed your work and your overarching sense of purpose in this lifetime. 

Listen to the corresponding podcast episode.

I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment where your work was allowed to be what you love to do. Work didn't have to be something that was about status or even about income. It was really about what makes you the happiest and what brings you the most joy.

My mom started her own business when I was seven years old and she got to do work that she loved, still loves, and is still doing today. Growing up, we spent hours at her office. Hours and hours and hours. In fact, I think we might have spent more time at her office than at home. Which, hey, no shame to my mom. I mean, she was a working, single mom, who owned a thriving and successful business. She got to do what she loved so, of course, she wanted to be there. She was constantly telling me, ‘Do what you love because you won't work a day in your life. If you're doing what you love, it'll just feel like play.’ This belief was very strongly impressed upon me. But what was modeled to me was that, even if you love what you do, you still have to spend a lot of time doing it. 

I remember being younger and people asking me if I wanted to do what she did when I got older, and I said...absolutely not. I want a life. 

The irony is that, of course, I ended up going to graphic design school, just like my mom, and became an entrepreneur, just like my mom. And I'm still working my little butt off all the time. But this idea of work life and non-work life is always lingering in the back of my mind. How do we get to do what we love for work, and how do we, also, get to do what we love for our life? How can we have the career that really lights us up and stirs our inner passion while also being able to walk away from it and have an equally fulfilling social life, family life, travel life, and hobby life?

From a very young age, we're indoctrinated into a system that emphasizes the purpose of productivity. The purpose of doing the work now to be able to get the job, the career or the lifestyle that we want in the future. Whether it be homework, studying, extracurriculars – all of it has to serve the larger purpose. And so, then our sense of purpose becomes intertwined with what we do for a living and our feelings of self-worth. So, now, your pleasure has to also somehow feed your work and your overarching sense of purpose in this lifetime.  

But this does not have to be a story that we all believe in. If you are a person who is seeking more balance between work and life, this might be the opportune time to examine your relationship to work and how your sense of self-worth may be tied to it. 

We have to remember that we are coming from a linear belief system that tells us that everything that we do has to feed into just one part of our lives. Regardless of the jobs we hold or the pursuits we follow, we all must take conscious steps to access a well-rounded and holistic experience of life. So, how do we break out of that linear, single minded thinking and remind ourselves that our non-work life requires just as much effort, energy, and attention as our work life? 

1. Examine your relationship to your work life and your non-work life.

Getting a sense of how much time we're actually spending on work is key to this conversation. How much time outside of your work hours do you spend thinking about work, reading work emails, communicating with coworkers or clients? 

When the intention that we bring to our time outside of work is clouded by responsibilities, pressures, and even successes at work, it becomes more and more difficult to stay present in our non-work life. We start to miss important things. We miss quality time spent with family and friends. We stop tending to our hobbies and passions. But when we bring the same mindfulness to our time at work to our time outside of work, we can automatically start to feel like we have a work life and we have a non-work life and become more aware of the times when we are letting our work life bleed into our non-work life and vice versa. 

2. Set clear boundaries.

We live in a time where we can be accessible at any time, day or night. Additionally, many of us are starting to work from home now with our non-work lives and our work lives coexisting in the same spaces. As a result, boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred. When we don't have boundaries on our work life, and if we don't get really clear and name those boundaries for ourselves, it can start to feel like we're working all the time when, in fact, we're just not setting clear boundary lines. Start by:

  • Identifying your work hours and sticking to them.
  • Clearly communicating your boundaries to your clients, coworkers, or bosses.
  • Implement easy structures to help you adhere to your boundaries lines. 

3. Separate your worth and your work.

Let's assume that you are the person that wants to turn your passion pursuit into your work, and you're a little bit nervous about what your work life balance is going to look like if you make this shift. Before deciding if this is something that you really want to do, I would have you ask yourself, can this pursuit, this thing that provides me so much enjoyment, withstand the pressure of needing to be the vehicle that gets me the resources I need to survive? 

What we do for work is inextricably tied into the emotions of survival, which can be fear, anxiety, and pressure. If we don't make money, then we can't afford our food, our homes, our lifestyles. So, if you're at this stage where you're considering how to make your hobby or your passion pursuits tied to how you earn an income, I would just have you ask yourself, does it make sense? Can this outlet for creative self-expression withstand the pressure of needing to be my means of survival? Or can I do something else that is enjoyable and fulfilling? A job where, though it may not be my passion, I feel that I am valued, and my strengths are being exercised. Can I do that to make money and then still have my outlet on the side? 

There is no right or wrong answer here. Everyone will have their own sense of security, stability, and survival. Just get really clear on your needs.

4. Embrace the holistic you.

Again, we have to understand that we're coming from a belief system that is linear. It tells us that everything that we do has to feed into one part of our lives. When, in fact, in order to feel like we're accessing the well-rounded and holistic experience of life, we have to remember to break out of that linearity. We have to do the work to shift our thinking from believing that everything needs to be dumped into this one aspect of our life, that our work is everything of who we are and in fact our purpose and our existence is not simply to serve one part of ourselves, but to serve all the parts of ourselves. Our legacy does not connect to just what we do for our jobs and career. 

Who are you outside of what you ‘do’? What are your interests, your hobbies, your joys? What do you enjoy just for the sake of enjoyment? How do you show up for your family? Your friends? Your loved ones? 

5. Leave room for restoration.

Rest is allowing ourselves to do the things that are enjoyable outside of work and doing the things that challenge the belief system that everything has to be dedicated to our work and our ability to achieve something bigger than us in this lifetime. We have to balance waking life with sleep. We have to be able to do the things that let our muscles rebuild our tissues and we also have to do the things that challenge us and break down our muscles so that we can get stronger. If we think about the balance of work life and non-work like waking life and sleep life, you can see how both things are necessary in order to create a holistic sense of self, supported by continued growth and expansion.

It is my belief that we, as human beings, love to do work. However, we cannot do that all the time without exhausting our systems. We are not computers plugged into an external energy source. We are human beings that require ourselves to feed our energy back to us. We have to eat. We have to rest. We have to do things that are pleasurable and fun and restorative in order to have the energy to accomplish the things we most want to accomplish.

______________________

Reflection Questions:

  • Who are you beyond your job title? What makes up your identity?
  • How much time do you spend on work-related activities outside of work hours? What boundaries can you set in place to create a stronger work-life balance?
  • When do you feel guilty about resting? How can you reframe rest as an essential part of your overall well-being?
  • How can you undo the belief pattern that everything you do has to have a purpose?

Lunar Series No. 4 - April 2024

Grounding

Allowing for Pleasure

Lunar Series No. 2 - February 2024