People have constantly told me that I need to have a balanced approach to life. That I need to maintain a “work-life” balance.
With this post, I want to dismantle this myth. Here is why the “work-life” balance approach is a myth and what you can do about it.
I know you want to accomplish more in your life than many others. I know you have a deep drive and an intense desire to create and to be creative. But here is the thing: You have to understand your limitations. There is no sense in ruining relationships in your life while pursuing your dream.
When all is said and done — the most important thing will be — not the amount of fans or followers you have — or the accolades you have amassed — it will be the amount of respect and love that the closest people in your life — will have for your life.
I want to take you to a play-ground of your childhood.
There in the midst of sand and monkey bars – was a peculiar contraption.
It is commonly known as a “see-saw.”
One kid sits on one end and another kid sits on the other end. Each side goes up and down in a routine manner.
If both kids stood on their feet and applied equal weight to each side, what would happen? Nothing! A type of balance would be created. It means that each side was given an equal amount of weight.
The lack of fun this would be for kids translates to the same level of non-existent fun it is for adults.
Unfortunately, most tend not to notice and attempt to pursue this balance of work and life.
Instead of thinking about balance, we need to think in terms of priority.
Balancing work and life means that you are giving equal weight and attention to each item in your life.
This would mean that your relationship with Jesus, your family, your work, your friends, your religious activities, your hobbies — are all receiving an equal amount of attention.
What if you realized that the amount of weight (time) you give to your work everyday equals to the amount of time you invest in the relationship with your spouse? That is a devastating thought.
Here are five ways by which you and I can approach life – with a priority mindset – instead of the elusive myth of balance:
1. Make Clarity A Priority. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? What is of chief importance? What is of least importance? Write these things down. I live by the mantra that if it does not get written (or typed) down then it is not going to get done. For me, it all starts and ends with Jesus. I am not even trying to Jesus juke you right now, I promise. When my obsessive pursuit of a relationship with Him becomes my main priority, everything else in life seems to fall into place. The next priority for me is myself. If I can’t lead myself, how am I supposed to lead others? I want to say with confidence: “do as I say and as I do.”
If we are not consistently taking a good look at our internal state – aided by the truth of Scripture – we run the risk of being blind guides to other like-eyed companions.
2. Learn to Say No. Every single day we are bombarded with opportunities. The sources are endless. The options are incalculable. If you are young and energetic, you want to say “yes” to everyone and to everything. This is the first step to reaching a premature burn out stage. In this post, I write specifically on how you can gain and maintain maximum clarity in your life.
You have to learn to say no to good things so you can say yes to great things.
3. Create An Alignment Between Priorities And Opportunities.When an opportunity comes at you – review it against number one above. Is it a priority? Is it furthering your relationship with Jesus? Is it allowing you into an even deeper friendship with your spouse?
If the answer is no, then so should be your response to the opportunity.
4. Create Clear-Cut Non-Negotiable Items. What are those things that are close-handed issues with you personally? What will you not curtail under any circumstance? For me, it is having dinner with my wife every single day. For me this is one of my “non-negotiable” items. I make sure that the way I plan my day – will for sure include this very important time for both Victoria and I. Another non-negotiable for me is having a very distinct line where work ends and full engagement with family begins. With push-notifications, buzzing and blinking have become our task-masters. This ought not be so. This is a few items from my list.
Your items might look different functionally – but principally — we are after the same things.
5. Accept The Tension Without Anxiety. There will always be a tension about your life between the things you want to accomplish in your life. Instead of worrying about it, you need to accept the reality of it. I would love to sit in front of a computer screen all day, with a latte nearby — writing the latest treatise — but I know that I have a clear list of priorities that need to be accomplished. You will have to press pause on some things in order to give attention to others things.
This is not a problem to solve but a reality to be a manager of.
Jesus repeatedly said no to things to invest into eternal things. He declined a prestigious political office (Lk. 19:28-44), decidedly spent time with some rather than others (Lk 6:12-16) and despite hectic crowds demanding his attention – went away to be in a quiet place to pray (Lk. 5:16).
- Jesus had crystal clear priorities.
- Jesus was unwavering in His commitment to accomplish the mission.
- Jesus went to the cross, in our place, for our sin — so that we would experience the perpetual joy of being God’s adopted sons and daughters.
Question: How are we specifically striving to be more like Jesus in our every day life – in light of what was said above?