A while back I wrote about the “125% rule,” the idea that having more on your plate than you can really get done as a good thing, because it forces you constantly to triage, to work better and faster and smarter, and to say ‘no’ to things that you shouldn’t really be spending time on.
That post was about work, and this one is about life. A perfect life is one in which at every moment you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Whether at work or at home or somewhere in between, you are fully engaged, fully energized, fully yourself.
I’ve never much liked the term “work/life balance” because of the dichotomy it implies – one is good (life), the other is bad (work), and somehow the idea that “work” is anything but “life” is confused at a pretty fundamental level (plus the phrase really is just corporate-speak for “let’s not make people work nights and weekends.”)
I’m much more interested in “balance,” and to me that means living your life in a way that is aligned with your own priorities, beliefs, who you are today, what you value, and who you want to be in the future.
Pulling “balance” off is tricky. If I break my life up into its component parts – work, spouse, family, friends, time for myself, etc. – it often feels like all of them could use more time. And if I run that idea over in my head enough times, I flip from a sense of fullness and energy into a perpetual cycle of “I’m not doing enough” in every phase of my life.
Which has led me to ask: if at (nearly) every moment I’m doing exactly what I should be doing, am I even allowed to be stressed about what I’m not getting done? Because if I’m doing what I need to do at every moment, yet I still have a never-ending list of incomplete “to do’s” in every aspect of my life, it seems like this means one of two things: either I’m spending my time in the right way but have the wrong attitude about what’s possible – and I need to change my aspirations– or I’m not really spending my time in a way that aligns with my priorities.
Or maybe this is just what life feels like in your 30s?