All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Does all play and no work make Jack a complete slack then?
I think it’s a little more complicated than this, but the issue of life-work balance often relies on this old “either-or principle.”
Why is the debate about work versus leisure?
My wonderful brother is an avid fisherman. He lives life one reel at a time. It is his complete passion and it relaxes him unlike anything else. I enjoy fishing, but not to the same extent he does. In fact, he’s been known to quit his job when it gets in the way of fishing. Fishing is his priority.
I’m not that way. I enjoy my business more than leisure in most cases. I enjoy building things and seeing them grow. In almost every case, I would rather have a good day of conversation and productivity, than one of catching fish. Therefore my work is often my priority, rather than relaxation.
My question now, is why can’t we live in an ‘and-also’ environment? Why can’t we work and leisure in what we do? Why can’t all the satisfaction that comes from engaging in leisure come from what you do in the business part of your life?
I believe it’s possible, in time, to find a zone where the question of Either-Or doesn’t exist.
In fact, if you don’t find some degree of significant intrinsic value in what you do beyond the social or the economic then you’re probably in the wrong place.
My best advice is to do what you love.
Do what drives your passion. It is not exactly a unique point of encouragement, but I do believe it makes all the world of difference if you at least try to find the place where your passions meet the workplace.
Perhaps this worries you from an economic standpoint. Guess what? You’ll be better at what you choose to do than most others because, quite simply put, it stirs your soul. The economic rewards will flow because you’ll be better than the other guy or gal doing it. You’ll want to study, you’ll want to learn those extra things to give you a competitive edge, you’ll want to do the extra credit.
Ideally, you’ll go the extra mile, not purely for bonus points, but because it is your passion.
So rather than focusing on “either-or” and thinking of the two as extremes along a continuum where there is no overlap, look for ways where you can grow the overlap between your passion and your employment — between your work and your leisure.
This means that if doing what you love is truly out of reach, you shouldn’t ignore opportunities to get at least a little closer than you were before. I don’t mean that you should always settle for less, but rather don’t give up when the going gets tough.
For almost everyone, it will get tough at some point.
Working passionately rarely falls into anyone’s lap. If it does, hold onto that position as tightly as you can. If it doesn’t, keep pushing onward. Search high and low for ways to maximize the enjoyability of your work.
If you don’t, the “either-or principle” will drag you down until you can’t get up in the morning.
Now, certainly don’t forgo keeping balance in life if you do strike gold with a passion-fueled occupation. You can’t work all the time, even if it is highly enjoyable, even if it is your pleasure. You need a break from time to time to sharpen the sword, to build your production capability, or just reset. Take that time.
I have found that when I step off the metaphorical treadmill from time to time, it is actually more productive for my work because it allows me to think more broadly about issues that I lost sight of. I’m able to think about the forest and not just focus on the trees.
Work hard to get yourself into a place where, when you’re relaxing, you’re also working. You’ll be working in a different way, at a higher plane, and allow yourself to reset physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Avoid with all your might the trap of “either-or.” Don’t think that work and leisure are wholly contradictory. Don’t think they are in eternal conflict with each other. Look for ways to create intersections where they increasingly overlap over time.
Hopefully you’ll figure it out before it’s time to stop working.