“If you live for the weekend, your life is broken.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
What does it mean to have balance in life? Often, we are told that achieving ‘work/life balance’ will allow us to live a more fulfilling life; that we need to spend less time working and more time on relationships, spiritual development, and personal interests. However, the word balance implies that there is a specific distribution of time and resources across the various components of our lives that enable us to achieve equilibrium. It is as if balance has a formula, and the only way in which to solve the equation is to plug in the ‘correct’ value for the unknown variable. Yet, regardless of how the variables are manipulated (e.g. less time at work, more time with family, etc.), we still struggle to find balance in life. In reality, balance is not one size fits all; it is relative to your values and dreams.
Time is the most precious commodity; it is the only thing we cannot buy, or buy back. We spend a disproportionate amount of time working. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day”, and that is merely the average. It is not uncommon for individuals to work 60, 70, or 80+ hours per week (i.e. 12, 14, and 16 hours per day). If the average person works nine hours and sleeps for seven hours, totaling 16 hours, that leaves only eight hours per day for relationships, spiritual development, health and fitness, and leisure. The numbers speak for themselves; we spend the majority of our lives working. Even if the average hours per day at work dropped to six, the majority of our time is still spent working and sleeping.
So how do we achieve balance? Is it even possible? These are difficult questions, and depending on whom you speak with, the answers will vary. However, I believe we are asking the wrong questions; we need to change the vernacular. For most of us, the scale will always be tipped toward professions, so ‘balance’ is not a realistic goal. Rather, we need to approach the situation from a different perspective: quality vs. quantity of efforts. During the eight hours per day that you are not working, what are you doing? Are you spending quality time with your spouse, family, or friends? Engaging in the activities you enjoy? If you answered yes, ask yourself: are you actually present during these moments? Are you all in? Or are you simply going through the motions?
It is the quality, not quantity, of time and effort that you invest in the constructs of your life that lead not to ‘balance’, but peace with oneself, and ultimately, a more fulfilling life. You have to be present in every moment. This is how we ‘buy back’ our time; go all in on what matters.
Weekends should not be viewed as an escape from reality, but rather opportunities to reset and recharge in order to put forth greater efforts toward your values and dreams Monday through Friday.
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