From CEOs and Executive Directors to close friends and co-workers, I’m often asked why I spin so many plates. And it’s a fair question.
Those who know me know that I wear a lot of hats. On any given day, I’m a Chief Strategy Officer, the President of a non-profit Board of Directors, an exhibiting photographer with an ongoing art practice, a single dad to three kids who are nearly teenagers, a friend to a small circle of confidants, and an occasional party on the dance floor.
There are a lot of roles I play, and a lot of responsibilities that come with each role. So the idea of work-life balance never sat well with me.
Most days, this theoretical balance felt more like an impossible tightrope walk. I’d picture a balance pole with buckets for weights on either side; one for work roles, the other for life roles. Every hour spent on “work” was a weight in one bucket while every hour in the other bucket would go towards “life”.
The problem was that it was impossible to balance the buckets. Sure, my day job required a disproportionately large investment of time. That’s expected. But what of my board role? Or my art practice?
In theory, these are roles that contribute to a fuller life, but in practice, they often feel like more work. And what of my gym sessions and attempts at healthy home cooking? Keeping up a social media presence? It all feels like work.
So with the cards stacked so heavily in favor of work, how could life ever truly compete? It can’t, of course.
But the truth I discovered is that it doesn’t have to.
That’s when I let go of work-life balance so that I could focus on Work-Life Fulfillment.
Work-Life Fulfillment doesn’t pit the ideals of work against the ideals of life. It recognizes that the things that fulfill us the most often require the most work.
Creating a photo series for exhibition requires a load of work, much of which I dislike. But the process—and the result—bring deep personal fulfillment to my life.
Losing 80 lbs in the last 12 months required work, from early morning workouts to healthy meal planning, shopping, and cooking, all on top of my normal schedule. But putting that work in has allowed me to enjoy more life.
Navigating the constant, new challenges of ever-growing and always-changing kids requires work. Oftentimes book work, working with professionals, and emotional work. But my kids are a core part of fulfilling my life.
Truth is, every area of life requires work. The more we want to squeeze out of life’s possibilities, the more we have to work for it. Which is why I’ve let go of the need to strike some nonsense balance between platonic ideals of “work” and “life”.
Instead, I focus on finding fulfillment in the life I curate for myself through all of the forms of work I do.
If you struggle with that same balance, I suggest you give it a try, too.
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