Arrived At Meditation Class. Dishevelled and Breathless. So Not Zen.
How did this happen?
5pm. Scoop up unfinished work from desk, jam it into shoulder bag next to the yoga pants, comfy t-shirt and hairband packed at 6am. Traffic app dialled up for the fastest route across town.
5.25pm. Arrived. No parking. Sprint the last 100 metres. Hit the changerooms, dress in yoga gear in record time. Jam hair into hairband.
5.29pm. Burst through door, drop onto the last mat, breathless. Conscious of zen like mood in the room, resist fist pumping the air screaming “I made it!”
5.30pm. Meditation class begins, heart still racing.
6.14pm. Waiting for the final breath, twitching, thinking about the calls you need to make in the car.
This is work life balance right? But really, how ridiculous is it to whip ourselves into a state of frenzy so we can mediate for 45 minutes?
We’ve been drilled by the wellness world to strive for balance. Equal amounts of work and life. But it turns out its impossible, all we did was add in extra goals to achieve on top of the normal working day to ‘balance’ out life, keeping us on the run 24/7.
Move over Work Life Balance, Work Life Integration has taken over.
What’s it all about?
- Its about getting serious with prioritizing and allocating time to what’s important to you, in business and life, every day. PS. What’s important to you is not for everyone and that’s ok.
- It’s more than working from home, with time to put the laundry on in between emails.
- It busts the myth on the eight hour work day, productivity counts, not the number of hours you work.
- It’s a big shift, one that comes with ditching ingrained expectations on ‘the life we should live’.
So what makes it so damn hard for us to integrate ‘life’ into our work calendar?
I got to discuss this with a group of business owners on a Carpe Diem Retreat in The French Alps recently. Everyone was there for the same reason, to ‘walk the talk’ on integrating work and life as one. After six months of transitioning their businesses so they could ‘work from anywhere’ they were living a life previously unimaginable. With a backdrop of jaw-dropping mountain scenery, hiking poles at rest, we talked about the challenges to get here. Turns out implementing systems and tech to support their new way of life was manageable, the real struggle was a mindset shift. Four issues kept coming up…
Guilt – thoughts along the lines of… ‘who am I to take time for me/my family, that’s what holidays are for’
Judgement – worried others see it as a lack of commitment to the business
Conditioning – work always comes first (the fear factor from our parents)
Status – ‘busy’ equals ‘success’
My view….. whilst businesses continue to label these ‘life benefits’ as ‘perks’, implying they are privileges, bonuses or incentives, adding fuel to the frowned upon ‘entitled’ status, the guilt will continue.
The world will not stop turning because we take an afternoon meditation/gym/yoga/run class, work from home for short periods to avoid peak hour traffic, take the kids to the park after school, work whilst travelling with family, get enough sleep…… etc etc.
I learnt a lot about Work Life Integration on the retreat. Beyond the mindset shift there’s more to be done. Flexibility, systems to enable freedom to work from anywhere, empowering employees to step up when you’re out of the business, getting brutally honest about time wasting, identifying what ‘living a better life’ really means to you and more. Its not an overnight transformation. I plan to cover them step by step in a series of blogs. Stay tuned.