Tamara narrates this 1 minute 48 second inspirational short video which asks, “What will you choose for your future?”
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.
We shape our experience of life through the choices we make, yet many of us have trouble making decisions, or make choices without being mindful about consequences.
Some of us were never mentored on how to make choices, but it’s one of the most important skills we can possess. Sometimes it feels difficult to choose since there is often an invisible tug-o-war between saying “yes” to one thing which inevitably means saying “no” to another. When we are caught in an internal conflict over which way to choose, we can feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm can have a paralyzing effect upon our necessary action. When we succumb to indecision, even in our indecisiveness we are making a choice.
The main issue with decisions is that we know at our core we cannot have it all. It’s an impossible goal to achieve and thinking that we can have it all puts more stress and strain upon us. To think we can have everything we want is a world view wrought with suffering. The deeper truth is we can have anything we want, just not everything we want. And therein lies the rub of being at-choice in any given moment.
“Today I am what I am because of my yesterday’s choices. And where I shall be tomorrow will be decided today.” ~ Unknown Author
Unexamined choices, or going with our emotional state is a recipe for cultivating a life of pain. We can’t move through life thinking that the fulfillment of desire is going to also equal a deeply satisfying life experience.
All of us have stories of living with the pain of consequences we had not anticipated or desired. Our experience of life today, this day, right now, is the sum total of all the decisions we’ve made up until this point, and it also includes the decisions that others have made for themselves. Other people’s decisions have a consequence that we experience as well. This is the pain and imperfection of our human condition.
“We are free to chose but we are not free from the consequences of our choices.” ~ Steven Covey
All of us are connected and interconnected. Every decision we make shapes our experience and as we are not islands unto ourselves, our decisions affect others as well. The decisions we make at-work or at-home affect more than ourselves. We are confronted with decisions continuously. Even a simple decision to get up in the morning when our alarm goes off, or instead hit the snooze button. The decision to work late or go home, the decision to take the time to make a healthy dinner, or grab fast-food.
Our life experience (health, happiness, peace, weight, education, career, success, etc.), is determined by choices. Even indecision like I mentioned, is a decision.
How do we make the best choice in the moment? Refrain from putting trust in wants or desires. Wanting something doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Kids want candy for breakfast, we might want a soda instead of water, but wants to do not equal supporting our highest. Knowing what we value most, and knowing what our top priorities are, these will bring us to our best answers. Choose wisely.
Some tips on making better decisions:
- Choose based upon consequences. Look at the possible outcomes and work backward. Do you like what you see?
- Avoid seeking perfection in the choice itself. Instead, look for the perfection of a goal in the inevitable consequences of your decision. You’re not perfect, neither is anything else in this world, so why do we seek perfection in the choices we make? How often do we get caught by fear or overwhelm because we are afraid of an imperfect decision? Be clear about your purpose, your values and your priorities, and you’ll find greater clarity around what to choose that will draw you closer to what you hold highest and dearest.
- Remember to avoid inaction through over analysis. Ever heard of paralysis by analysis? While it makes a lot of sense to look at the numbers and make informed decisions, getting stuck in the minutia of the details can lead to a lot of time wasted in the decision-making process. Often times our research and analysis is cleverly disguised as procrastination. If you’re caught in doing your due diligence, make sure you don’t stay there just so you don’t have to make a choice. Procrastination is a choice as well.
- Base your decision upon what is unchanging, and not upon emotions, desires, or wants that are always changing. Look deeper to a more trustworthy source…your gut. That still small voice that makes you uncomfortable when your wants and desires start pitching temper tantrums because they want something. One telltale sign that your emotions are taking over is if you’re looking for validation or permission from others. “Misery loves company,” is not wisdom speaking. If you’re looking outside of yourself for direction, you’re not trusting yourself, and possibly it’s because you’re not listening to the wise self (or you don’t want to listen to the “no” answer your gut is giving you). Desire argues with you, wants are averse to delayed gratification. The truth is, if you’re in alignment with your own integrity, your choices become easier and you won’t need to seek out what other people think because you will already be resolved to doing what you know to be your best decision, for your own integrity.
- Embrace and accept that consequences are a natural outcome of choice. Give yourself some margin for error. Mistakes are a part of the human experience. I like to think I’m a spiritual being having a human experience. This means I’m having an experience of imperfection. Forgiveness is as important to offer ourselves as it is to offer to others. Redemption comes when we apply compassion to our human condition, and realize, that in every moment we are all in-process of learning.
Welcome to my conversation about RelationShift®. This is the second post of 2 parts. If you did not read part 1, RelationShift 101: Get Shifted, I highly recommend you do so before continuing on. If you have read part 1, welcome back, and let’s continue!
We left off of Part 1 on the subject of Transformation and choosing an experience you would like to change. Take an unpleasant memory you have of a situation or an interaction with a person, feel the feeling and then take a look at the thought related to that unpleasant feeling. That sneaky thought can pack a powerful punch in your energy and emotions and most of the time we’ve never taken the time to investigate whether the thoughts we are having are actually true. Usually our unpleasant feelings have a thought attached to them that have “shoulds” involved…like “they should have done this” or “that should not have happened” or “they shouldn’t have said it that way,” etc., etc. Typically we unconsciously “should” all over ourselves and we “should” all over others cultivating more suffering and feelings of discomfort.
Travel with me now to the thoughts that are spinning inside your head at this moment. These thoughts are actively creating your current experience behind the scenes in the background whether you’re aware of it or not. Would you like to have a different experience? (If you’re enjoying your current experience, go with it and don’t change it!)
If you’re looking for more peace, clarity, tranquility, and harmony, simply open your mind, remain flexible and consider for a moment that if you had a different thought operating in the background, you might actually feel a different emotional response and thereby a different experience all together.
Are you with me on this? Our thoughts create. And one of the most powerful creations occur when we attach to the thought, in fact, attach to the thought and an emotion is born. Without thought, there’s no negative experience….it would just “be” a thought without a story, a meaning or a qualitative judgement.
Eckhart Tolle, in his book, A New Earth, shares, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
What if you were to examine any negative thought…whatever it is…. For example a thought like, “How rude! I said hello and smiled but she didn’t smile back. What’s wrong with people today? Nobody is courteous anymore.”
This is a thought. And if we attach to it, we begin to make a story…and the story grows the more we attach our energy to the thought. Is it true? How can we know it’s true? Our minds make stories to make sense of the information coming in, but it does not mean it’s factual or true.
The feeling associated with this thought might be frustration and irritation. This thought may not serve to open up the relationship to all the good feelings we wish to experience. This kind of thinking is destructive.
How might we SHIFT our thoughts and thereby transform our entire experience?
- Touch the feeling
- Identify the thought behind it
- Reboot and Refresh your thinking
- Transform the experience
In my experience I’ve found many of us at times unconsciously are not wishing to transform our experience. We say we do, but we don’t do it. Why? Unfortunately, because we’re too attached to the story of our misery. Sometimes we are trapped in our own story and we identify with our pain. In order to experience all of the desires of our heart, we must be willing, compassionate and courageous enough to let go of our need to “be right” about our story of who we think we are so that we have an opportunity to have a different experience. We would be free to experience a life of peace, harmony, joy, love…forgiveness. Redemption is just a thought away.
No one wants to be wrong. Not me, not you and not the person you are working through this current problem with. To truly create change, we begin by choosing to reboot and refresh our minds and thoughts; in turn letting go of our position. Otherwise, we have made a conscious choice to remain stuck in the experience we already have in lieu of something different.
I would ask you now to begin noticing your feelings and simply become observant or aware of the thought behind each emotion that bubbles up in your experience. Taking this action step will begin to demonstrate how very powerful we are at creating our own experience. We always get to be right. As you think, so do you experience emotions. What do you choose? Negative, painful, stressful, or peaceful, calm, and compassionate?
This is an opportunity to transform our experience. By identifying and recognizing our thoughts and feelings, we can transform our experience by making a choice to either accept, disregard, or change our underlying thoughts. Perhaps by simply accepting how we feel, and why we feel this way, we can identify a new strategy and direction forward in our relationship.
You and I choose our experience. If we choose misery, pain and suffering, then this is our choice. No judgement, it’s simply a choice. If we don’t like it, we can choose thoughts that support us rather than unravel us.
The sixth century Roman philosopher Boethius said “Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.”
Having a life of balance and harmony calls upon us to be couragous and take responsibility for our experience in daily life.
Sometimes we choose to be angry, sad or disappointed. There is nothing wrong with such a choice. It’s just an experience. When we are tired with an experience or we desire strongly enough to have a different experience, we can make another choice.
We do have the power to experience all that we most deeply desire in our life. It is all about our choices. We choose. Thoughts come, they just do, it’s part of our human experience. Where we exercise our strength, our brilliance, our true power, is in choosing what we hold onto and what we let go of. Yes, it’s really quite exciting. We are more powerful than we can possibly imagine.
What do you choose?