Achieving meaningful requires replacing “work/life balance” with “work/life relationship.”
Work and life are not sitting on a seesaw, competing, balancing, and integrating. That is a terrible way to think about both work and life!
Work is a PART of life. Life is for pursuing meaning.
Work must be integrated into your adventure, with the best kind of work and the right amount.
Work is like flour in the bread recipe. Too much of it, and the bread tastes bland. Too little, and the bread doesn’t rise to its potential.
The right amount, along with all the other necessary ingredients, and you have a nourishing meal.
The same with our work.
Work has the ability to transform us, lift us, and be a source of tremendous life. If you are like me, work is one of the most meaningful parts of your life, it has challenged you to grow, and it has helped you to serve and love other people.
But work also has a way of creeping into all kinds of places in our lives, overflowing our schedule, demanding our attention, and absorbing all our creativity.
The relationship between work and the rest of our life is dynamic. It changes, and it must be evaluated regularly. Healthy work has boundaries established around it, but it also has a healthy integration with the rest of the ingredients of life.
To take work off the seesaw and integrate it with your life, consider these questions:
A. How often are you getting quiet, zooming out, and evaluating the impact of work on who you are? I recommend doing this at least quarterly, if not monthly.
B. How consistently is work a conduit for the deep gladness you have within you: for your gifts, your desires, and your care for others? Work is hard, and we shouldn’t expect otherwise. But it should also be deeply meaningful.
C. Do you have boundaries around work that help to protect rest, play, and exploration in life? And is work staying within those boundaries? It’s normal for work to overflow boundaries. In the short-term, that’s fine. In the long-term, it’s harmful and begins to suck the oxygen out of life.
If you feel unfulfilled at work, or if you have lost the sense of space in your life, evaluate your work/life relationship.