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September 20, 2014

The Truth About Work/Life Balance—How to Really “Have It All.”

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There is no work-life balance. We have one life. What’s most important is that you be awake for it.

~ Janice Marturano

Life is life. Work is life. Play is life.

The whole concept of “work/life balance” is flawed, because it implies that “work” is somehow separate from “life.”

We may mentally categorize our lives into work time, family time, social life, and so on, but these separations are  an illusion. Every part of our lives (and the universe) is interconnected—and everything is in flux, all the time.

I may be a laid-back gringa hippie these days, but when I was in high school and college, I was a go-getter.

After having been a diligent, high-achieving student all throughout my academic career, I chose my undergraduate major mainly in an act of rebellion (I was pissed about having to attend the gigantic, nearby state university). Advertising sounded vaguely interesting and most importantly, easy.

I landed an internship during my freshman year and soon starting working at the ad agency part-time and eventually full-time, when I graduated. My “bachelor’s of science” degree in advertising fell into my lap.

For years, I was at war with my career.

It had morphed into a wild beast with a mind of its own. It—among other things—drove me to depression, anxiety, mania, insomnia.

One of my jobs made me resort to suicidal fantasies, another led to my penchant for habitually smoking a bowl before work and/or on my lunch hour. I would go find a patch of shaded grass in which to sit and eat my sandwich and do a minute of yoga and be outside in the fresh air with some semblance of cerulean freedom… before dragging myself back to the grey computer in the grey cubicle in the big grey office building.

Like so many people, I was basically a paid corporate slave who “earned” two weeks of vacation per year. Plus national holidays!

In a scenario like this, there is no possibility of balance.

Even if your schedule is more flexible and you “work from home,” is that better or worse? Instead of working for the weekend, we’re working on the weekend—to make ends meet and/or because our “office” is in our pocket.

If you hate your job and must compartmentalize it as separate and mutually exclusive from your “real life,” this is a sure sign you need to find a better suited job or career or vocation or living.

Is the salary, health insurance and retirement plan really worth it?

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”  ~Alain de Botton

I was miserable. I had a quarter-life crisis or two. Yeah, two. One in California, one back home in Texas. It was a rough few years (understatement of the decade).

The career I have now did not just fall into my lap. I had to hunt it down. I had to fail and fail again in the process and reflect on my failures and eventual successes. It wasn’t until roughly seven years after college that my career finally felt right, ideal even.

Now my career is a beloved tincture including education, teaching, mothering, writing, yoga and mindfulness, classes, workshops, retreats, blogs, books. Okay, and maybe a little bit of advertising too. (It is useful, no doubt.)

“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” ~ Heather Schuck

Naturally, the process continues. My career keeps evolving in new and exciting ways. At this moment, I feel like I am where I am meant to be, which feels awesome.

I am finding my passion, continually discovering how I can best benefit myself and others. I have given up a bigger, steadier income for the pleasure of creating my exactly career as I want it to be. I have joyfully given up working full-time for the pleasure of spending afternoons with my daughter and husband at home.

Sure, at times, I still get stressed and overwhelmed—feeling like I am being pulled in so many directions (by no one but myself), spending too much time working (connected to a screen) and not enough time playing.

Yet most of the time, more and more, my work does feel like play.

It feels like I am living while making a living.

My career is ever evolving, and my aspiration nothing short of revolution.

It feels good to be honest and accept myself fully, my faults and weaknesses and fears included. In this way, I have found balance.

I now get to play at work and work at play. I feel so grateful, blessed and fortunate. It brings me such happiness to see more and more people waking up, becoming more mindful, taking leaps of faith and creating their own careers.

Every day, no matter what, it’s great to be alive. If that’s not “having it all,” I don’t know what is.

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Phil Hearing at Flickr 


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