Knowing that I was going to embark on a blog series called Do the Work, last week I purposely wrote a single blog post titled Rest at Work (posted November 30, 2022). I would encourage you to refer to that post over the coming weeks because my hope is that this new series will a) inspire you to engage with work in various aspects of your life more intentionally, but b) not cause you to become weary.
Today I want to tackle our vocational work. For this purpose, I define vocational work as what we do to earn a living, or the primary responsibility that we carry whether it provides monetarily or not. By way of example, full-time parenting and volunteer work could fall into this category.
I encourage you to forget about the concept of work/life balance. First, balance – which typically means a balance of time invested – is a myth. By its very nature, full-time vocational work is going to demand more than its fair share of your time, even though it may not even be your Number 1 priority. Secondly, when we talk about work/life balance, we are suggesting that work and life are at odds with each other. Work becomes the enemy; if it were not for work, we could have a better life.
That is not a healthy view. Rather, consider that work is a part of life, so feel free to work. I would argue that we were created for work, and it makes up a considerable part of our purpose. I encourage you to develop Healthy Rhythms that establish proper boundaries among all the priorities of your life. This ensures that you are concentrating your available time on those people and activities that are most important to you.
Several of my clients have found this viewpoint liberating. Much of the stress that we feel about work is because we have been inclined to think of it as the thief of our time, taking away from our life, rather than being an important part of it. On one hand, thinking of work as an important part of your life might seem like a “duh” type statement, but with further thought I believe it likely you will see that thinking about work/life balance has caused you to experience negative emotion about the amount of time work requires of you.
I am NOT advocating for or validating workaholics. Unhealthy rhythms that cause us to work more and more at the expense of other aspects of our life is not okay. But I am advocating for you to feel free to work, to the extent it holds its proper place among your priorities. It is possible that this may mean you can feel free to work late tonight, or to go into the office Saturday morning, without feeling guilt because you have intentionally made a decision that is best for your life in this moment. It is equally possible you will take a vacation with your family (or enjoy the holidays at home) and stay completely disconnected from your workplace for a time, because you know where work stands in your life.
Personally, there was a point when I needed a change because my current position was demanding an unhealthy amount of my time & energy. To restore Healthy Rhythms, I intentionally sought a lateral position (even a demotion) that required less global travel. Because good fortune comes to those that live intentionally, I was able to secure just such a position without having to change employers. Hear me, from a time perspective work was still out of balance in this new position. But Healthy Rhythms were intact. Do the Work. Gratefully, in concert with all aspects of your life.