“How to Have the Best Day Ever” (Part 1/5): Work Life Balance Isn’t Real
by Live Better
Throughout our journey at Live Better, we’ve developed two key defining values:
Find purpose in what you do for work.
Self-Care is the most important care.
Motivation is a fleeting emotion, while discipline remains behind to do the work (especially in spite of a lack of motivation). Purpose (and dedication) creates this discipline. Practicing self-care is the true purpose of Live Better; health and wellness is the sustainable fuel to help you do whatever it is in life you want to do...better. Without your unique effort and energy, we are only getting a sub-optimal contribution, and we need the full thing! Proper self-care helps you pursue your purpose.
For the next five weeks, we’ll be discussing each of our defining strategies, or “idea categories”, to help you achieve having the best day ever, every single day. If this is your first time reading through something Live Better, let me give you a quick run down; adding up all of your "best days ever” will provide you the "best life ever". Having the best day ever seems like this Mr. Positive Nice Person attitude to walk around with, but it’s much more than that. It’s a daily decision to make today better than yesterday. Even making the next moment better than the last. With that in mind, let’s get to our first installation:
Work-Life Balance is a made up term.
Drawing that contrast is too dangerous a game to play. Why would you inadvertently make work the antithesis of life?
If “life”starts when you leave work, what is happening while at work? Death?!
Life is happening the entire time. In fact, we spend a majority of our life at work; we advocate actually enjoying a majority of your life. It should be, as predicted above, purposeful. How you make money should be meaningful.
Here’s the big secret - you’ll never achieve balance. Sometimes we must work harder for deadlines, building a business, or just getting stuff done. Sometimes work is low key and we can spend time traveling, working form home, long lunch breaks, or Flex Friday’s.
A caveat; your work doesn’t need to be your biggest “passion.” What you do for money can serve a grander purpose of fueling you “calling,” like being very efficient with your time to pursue a non-profit initiative (that wouldn’t scale into your “full time” job).
What are some better ways we can describe how to spend time on what we do for work and what activities we spend time on outside of work? How about prioritization and scheduling.
Let’s frame this is three key areas: Micro, Meso, and Macro. Remember, our micro is our short timeframe goal period, like a day or week. Our meso is our mid-length time goal, like a month or quarter. Our macro is our long-term timeframe outlook like a year (note: all three can be scaled up or down - e.g. a “micro” time period might be a year in the context of a lifetime).
Decide each day what your essential priorities are (read: “to do list”). Let’s say we have eight hours of work to do. We then pre plan how our morning and evening will run (utilizing morning and evening routines to create discipline in our day) outside of work. If that takes two hours, we’ve got 14 more hours to go! This might be where your former “life” part of that balance equation might live.
Decide what needs to get done. Then, “balance” your day as you wish with passions and activities. Schedule these side hustles to make sure they still receive B-level priority.
During a longer timeframe, we can look further at the distribution of time you spend on work (for money) and passion projects or activities you enjoy outside of work. This might include a board you sit on, a charity you’ve started or are involved with, or an activity you are deeply invested in (e.g. art, sports, blog, etc).
Are you enjoying this mix of time? If your “job” is funding your side passion, does that still motivate you to work hard? Do you still find purpose in your main gig?
Taking a quarterly review of this mix is extremely important. Instead of letting something you once cared deeply about start to take over your free time in a negative way, it’s mindful to review your passion and impact objectively.
It can also be very telling if what you do for work starts to get in the way of this impact-activity, especially if you happen to make money on this side hustle. We transitioned jobs over a period of time of 8-16 months; at some point our main job was hindering the progress of our side job; the side job quickly became the main job.
Here is your chance to work towards completely blending the two together. “Work” is no longer work; you are simply pursuing the life you want to live. Your purpose is your passion, your career is your purpose, and harmony is achieved. While a great dream, this never needs to be achieved to truly be happy and live a proverbial “balanced” life.
So how does better prioritizing and scheduling your time lead to more purpose in your life and better self-care? Controlling your time, and understanding that some moments are better served spent on work and some moments are better served working on yourself, creates better headspace to operate. It helps you avoid overwhelm, burnout, and purposelessness in your “pursuit of happiness.” It leads to mindful behavior about your health needs; as they change, so might your ability and willingness to work.
Ultimately, if you operate at 75%, your work suffers. We suffer. The world suffers. If your work lacks purpose, it will lead to a lack of effort. We need your effort.
If you’re at a stand still, take a full review of your time, start to finish. Are you spending it where you want?
At the end of your day (and your life), are you making the impact you want to see in the world?