Tamara narrates this 1 minute 48 second inspirational short video which asks, “What will you choose for your future?”
work life balance
Tamara breaks the myth of Work-Life Balance and introduces the idea of Work-Life Satisfaction through this inspirational collection of highlights from her keynote delivered to The CMO Club at the Conrad Hotel in New York City.
Most people are attracted to the idea of “Life Balance” because our modern lives can seem out of control and a human sacrifice upon the altar of busy. We want to feel we are living our best life, but for many of us, we have a sense we aren’t, and to our skeptical sensibilities, this “best life” thing feels to be a pipe dream.
Have we swallowed a lie? Have we missed the boat if we haven’t achieved a better balance between our career and personal life. We’ve been told balance will bring happiness to our life, and the reason we’re so unhappy is that we lack this invisible, elusive, balance. Perhaps if we find this mythical unicorn we will finally achieve some semblance of magical satisfaction. The only problem is, finding life balance is impossible. If you accept my supposition of work-life balance being an impossibility, then living our best life is unattainable as well, right? Wrong. I’d like to encourage you to be open to a fresh perspective where work-life balance is not a requirement for finding joy and happiness in our life.
Let’s bust the very destructive work-life balance myth. This concept of work-life balance has been extremely popular for several decades and it quite simply doesn’t exist. To pursue this elusive balance is to pursue frustration, sadness, and defeat.
“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” ~ Jack Welch
Work-Life Balance does not exist because the vast majority of humanity can not split their lives into 2 compartments; Work and Life. We are whole beings and as whole beings our work is also our life and our life is also our work. It’s a package deal. Parents in particular will understand precisely what I mean by personal life being work too. Our life is all one. A whole. Our experience in a 24 hour period is our experience…this is our life. We can’t say, “I will spend 50% of my time on work and 50% with my family.” Life does not exist on a giant scale where we weigh out what we did with our day and then feel guilty for the side that seems lighter than the other. We can’t entirely separate out our time like this. It’s impossible.
So if we aren’t striving for balance, what are we striving for? Satisfaction.
I believe our journey is finding a deeper sense of fulfillment in our life, an awareness we are on the right path to achievement. I speak of satisfaction instead of “happiness” because I believe happiness is a raw emotion, a feeling. What I’m talking about when I share the concept of satisfaction is not a feeling, achievement or accomplishment. Rather, satisfaction is a deeper sense of knowing at a core level we are spending our time doing what we came to earth for. Satisfaction is not a fleeting emotional experience or achieving a certain professional or personal milestone. It is who we are, every day, in the world, whether it be perceived as working, parenting, leisure pursuits, or otherwise. We are whole beings living a whole life, not a series of compartmentalized daily experiences. Life satisfaction can’t be split readily into categories to be sliced and diced and measured on a scale.
Choices involve costs and benefits.
Everything we choose in life involves sacrifice. There is a cost to everything we choose and nothing is wonderful all the time. Sometimes what we are involved in doing doesn’t feel great and it may not feel very encouraging. The truth is, everything feels like it sucks sometimes. Anyone who doesn’t experience a bad day isn’t having a human experience. Our jobs may suck some days, clients act like jerks, bosses like asses and our spouses or significant others may make us furious, and our children can annoy the crap out of us. Some days I don’t like my kid very much and there are times when my spouse drives me bloody crazy. That’s real life. That’s the duality of our human experience, sometimes you love them, other times you question why you ever said, “yes” to becoming involved in the first place.
The best versions of ourself understands this vulnerable underbelly of being human and our wiser self is okay with the emotional ups and downs because this is our reality as imperfectly perfect human beings. We can experience a negative emotion but we don’t have to internalize it as “this is going to suck forever.” Instead, we can know as human beings integrating a whole life means experiencing ups and downs and everything in between. The most important element is our allowing ourselves to have an experience without judging how it “should” feel or look to others. This is our unique experience. What’s important to you? What do you want? Is it a life filled with career endeavors, a life filled with children, or travel, or all-night writing sessions, or a little bit of everything? We get to choose. A whole life is filled with many flavors, multiple opportunities, and exquisite choices…not to be judged and approved of by others, but to be enjoyed, savored, and experienced by you.
“If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.” ~ Donald Trump
My belief is the best way to experience life is to experience it knowing that you are choosing how you want to spend your time. Most of us are ensnared in a perpetual loop of: “I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know it’s not this.” What we are truly looking for is a deeper purpose. I won’t ask you to understand your purpose, it’s beyond the scope of this blog post, but I would ask you to consider with more clarity, the following question: “What can I do with my time that is important to me?” What are your values, priorities, and what choices bring into fulness the best version of yourself that you can be? Whatever brings you to your best self, is the best choice for YOU.
I guarantee you will experience loads of satisfaction if you spend your time in the pursuit of things important to you. You and I experience regret, sadness, grief, and eventually burnout, when we spend our time doing things we feel are unimportant, waste our time, or do no serve to lift us up to our highest. Ultimately we feel those same feelings of pain when we seek balance instead of the satisfaction of spending time on what is important to us. Pursue what is important to you. Acknowledge that work and career are still you and your life, and not separate. Children, spouses, aging parents, and all manner of important people to you are also your life. It’s all one big ball of “stuff” that we do that fills up our twenty-four hour day. We take work home and home to work…because we’re human. Stop trying to split yourself into two and give yourself a much needed break.