The work-life balance movement emerged to counter the one-dimensional lives of early baby boomer men. Sacrificing marriage, health and family relationships in the pursuit of empty fortune and fame is a genuinely dumb idea but so is work-life balance.
Life is a complex system of moving parts. They need to work together in an optimal way to create the experience of joy, meaning, fulfillment and pleasure. When I am riding my mountain bike, skiing a steep couloir or climbing a knife-edged rock ridge, the idea of balance is keenly relevant, because I can fall off either side of the fulcrum and die. But in life there is no such fulcrum.
The problem with using balance as a guide to managing how I deploy the 24 hours I am alive every day is the seesaw metaphor itself. If I want to add to the quality of one part of my life, I necessarily compromise another part of my life. And, who said that work isn’t just another part of life?
Optimize or compromise? I prefer symmetry to balance. Symmetry is “and” thinking while balance thinking too often devolves into the “or”.
Here are four of the many statements I use to frame my dream life. I am:
- working around the world with cool people on cool innovation,
- sustaining high levels of energy, fitness, health and wellness,
- building a strong marriage and intimate home sanctuary, and
- contributing to a vibrant community of collaborators.
If I express of my vision using the balance idea, more emphasis on one compromises the others: innovation + energy + sanctuary + community = 24 hours in a day. The parts end up in competition rather cooperation.
Alternatively, if I use symmetry as my guide and align all of the parts of my life together as a system: innovation = energy = sanctuary = community = 24.
How does each decision I make and task I undertake serve my entire vision? A good night’s sleep = innovation = energy = sanctuary = community. Writing an awesome blog article = innovation = energy = sanctuary = community. Pro bono work, cleaning the house, doing something fun with the kids and date night all = innovation = energy = sanctuary = community. My whole vision is more true today than it was yesterday.
Expansive vision is a result of expanding consciousness and expanding conversation. They allow your whole life to become much greater than the sum of the parts–a beautiful high level synergy instead of an ugly compromise.
My new book has lots of good perspective of raising consciousness and developing a great vision for a dream life. Click here to purchase your copy. Please feel free to share this article and your thoughts below.