“Find the joy in your life . . .”
Carter Chambers in his letter to Edward Cole in the movie, The Bucket List
So much to do. So little time. These statements are a contradiction in terms. How do we handle the conflict of accomplishing unlimited tasks in limited time? The question is clearly relevant in this era of constant motion and rapidly advancing technology. We only need to pay attention to all the productivity pros out there who are cajoling us with books, seminars and video tapes on how to master our time. And, if we ever do find that extra elusive time, where shall we invest it? What about work-life balance? What is that? And, who has the time to explore such a challenge?
Perhaps you have invested in a program or book to help you organize the day-to-day demands of your life. Even if you have not spent a single cent on this topic or watched something on TV on how to do this better, it has at least been in your thoughts.
Part of the reason we talk or think about time is that in today’s world so many things are going on simultaneously. We are busy even if we do not want to be busy.
There are electronic apps within our phones that are designed to do anything we need. While all the technological advances are made to improve our lives and to utilize our time more efficiently, I believe that the opposite is often the result.
All these advancements are in some sense making us even busier, if that is possible. At least, it seems like there is no idle time. And if there is a moment when we can breathe, there is an app or new advancement that tells us how to do even that.
Let’s be honest . . . all of us want to be successful. We want career prosperity. We want to flourish in the importance of home-life. We want a full life. And, there are plenty of things to do – more than what we can handle – available at work and home. How do we choose?
Perhaps, a good place to start would be with the right questions. John Coleman, in his article, The Crucial Thing Missing From The Work-Life Balance Debate, offers an uncomplicated conclusion often overlooked in articles and books on the balance of work and life. His central question is amazingly simple. In our effort to create a better work-life equilibrium, it is essential that we ask and answer the vital question: What is it that we are striving to balance?
John Coleman writes: “Articles on work-life balance almost never ask what we’re striving to balance — what is the goal of the exercise. They assume that a certain number of hours sprinkled at work, at home, at the gym or with friends will yield a good life. But these articles rarely articulate what this good life looks like . . . We’ve been conceiving of the topic of work-life balance all wrong. And I’d posit a new way in which to explore the issue by fundamentally redefining the terms. Starting with the end in mind, the goal most of us are striving for is fulfillment and human flourishing — others’ and ours. It is not just a happy or balanced life — though it may be happy — but a good life, one lived for worthy purposes and, in a way, uplifting to others.”
Coleman continues: “If this is the goal, then I’d suggest we reconceive of the two fundamental terms of the work-life debate. Rather than thinking of ‘work’ as ‘things we do at an office’ or our professional pursuits, I’d term work [as] anything we have to do. And I’d term ‘life’ [as] anything we want to do.”
I love this article and highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with the element of time management and work-life balance. My simple takeaway from Coleman’s philosophy is a solid success principle for life:
Find your intersection of joy and purpose. Invest time in this area.
Where? Often, we find this special place in our personal relationships away from the workplace. But, if we really are wholly attuned to our professional environment, we may find this, too, in our careers. However, rarely is this view presented in film entertainment or in most of the books we read.
A common plot of popular romance movie scripts involves a main protagonist who puts career ahead of important associations. Work is presented as the enemy. Too many hours at the office is shown as the negative element in a failed relationship. While this circumstance does occur, I believe it is counterproductive to drawing a broad conclusion. We may miss out on some of the best opportunities for a joy-filled, purposeful life.
I have lost count of the moments at work when I have been aware of the presence of joy as well as purpose. Some of the best moments in my life occurred at the office. And yes, some of the most memorable moments have been at home with family or friends. I do not find it conflictive spending time in either area.
We will always have things we need to do. Requirements. The numerous tasks comprising these prerequisites include elements of work and wholeness of hearth and home. These important components of life success can never be eliminated. They command our attention. Such a mandate also affords opportunities to do things that really matter. Full of joy and purpose. Found in many different environments. At home and work. Successful work-life balance is not a choice between career and home – it is about finding the joy in your life. Discovering that special joy in the midst of what you were always designed to do – your main purpose. Where are you investing your time? Is there a special purpose in what you do? Is there joy?
Joyful purpose, a life choice, is the perfect balance in anything we may constitute as work – things we need to do. The central work-life question that you are being asked is this:
What do you want to do that is full of joy and purpose? Are you devoting time to that mission?
At the end of the day, we all want to succeed. We want to do things that matter at home and in work. We want a full life. We want to leave a legacy.
Today, I will spend time doing what I was always meant to do.
I will find joy.
I will find purpose.