Catalyst

Learning from Life and Leadership

Get Off Life’s Scales

balanced rocksSomeone told you a lie, a real whopper. You became an adult and attended a seminar, read a book, or got friendly advice. The lie is simple.

“You need to maintain life/work balance.”

You stepped on life’s scales and the pans never get even. You tried the golden equations of equality. Eight hours at work, eight hours of sleep, and eight hours for the “important” stuff. But the math never works. There’s more work to do than time available. Family crises arise. You wake up one morning with a fever.

Todd Henry wrote an excellent book called Die Empty. In it, he describes the myth of life/work balance. He maintains people were never designed for balance but for rhythm. Life has its rhythms.

Listen to ancient wisdom describe it:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Solomon’s listing of life includes no balance but rather the back and forth of a child’s playground swing. Sometimes life is rushed followed by a season of slowness. The busy fall of harvest is always followed by the solitude of winter. Such is the rhythms of life.

So how does this relate to your life?

I’ve met many people who like to use the word “burnout.” It’s a terrible feeling. Numbness sets in. Apathy puts its arm around you as a constant companion. Life tastes like sand.

Most take an inventory which says “you are out of balance.” Some complete charts to show they are empty or full. Both, while seemingly intuitive, miss the point of living.

Instead of seeking balance, find the equilibrium of life. Where are you right now? is it busy at work? Work hard and get it done. Once complete, rest. Turn off your phone. Don’t check your email. Take your kids or grandkids to a park and just rest. Let work go.

If you have a family emergency, put all your energy into it. Devise a system (either through an assistant or co-worker) to limit your involvement until you get through the problem.

Whatever season it is, acts appropriate to the season. If it is sowing, spread seed. If it is weeding, take the whack at it. If it is watching the snow fall, admire the grace of the flakes.

Step off the scales of life/work balance. Find the season of life, do your best, and move forward to a new season.

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