It’s a living.
Is it, though? We’ve all got bills to pay. Does what you do to pay them make it easy for you to get out of bed in the morning? If not, I’d say it’s not a living so much as it’s just a job; a necessary evil.
There’s nothing wrong with jobs. They can be solid steps along a career path leading to something better—but what is better? I mean, truly better—not just more money for paying more, bigger bills.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a world where we had to get good grades to get into college (we didn’t), where we had to have a college degree to get a good job (we didn’t), where a good job was simply one that paid more (it isn’t), and where you spend the prime of your life doing what others want because you can stop working and doing what you like when you retire.
That’s just how it was for our generation (X). Work, like school before it, was merely something to be endured until you’d paid your dues and could stop working. It’s a fundamentally damaging perspective.
Get It Over With
If we only go to school to get good grades so we can get into college, the grades are more important than actually learning things. Which means that the bulk of the education system is built around preparing children to pursue a college education that, increasingly, means more debt than value.
When you graduate owing more for your degree than your parents paid for their first house, you lose the freedom to choose your own adventure in life. Student loan debt repayment becomes a consideration in both which jobs you choose and how long you follow a predefined career path.
You’re sold on work-life balance, where you’re supposed to keep business and pleasure separate. When you’re on the clock, you belong to the company. You put the company first. You are loyal. You can do anything else you like outside business hours.
“Balance”, then, means eight hours on the clock per day, plus an unpaid hour for lunch, plus another one to two hours a day commuting to and from. How come work gets eight hours of effort plus another two to three (25-37%) of your life time per day? By the time you factor in groceries, laundry, yard work, the kids, there’s not a lot of time left for life.
The other night, I talked to a buddy after V&P went to bed. His wife and kids had gone to bed too. We both had a laugh at how we get to trade sleep for progress on our dreams. And then I think another little part of both of us died inside because that’s just shitty and wrong.
Balance > Parallel > Harmony
I spent a decade chasing what I called work-life parallel. Today, I’m more interested in work-life harmony—but what does all that mean?
Balance means keeping things separate, but equal. Parallel means things are going in the same direction. Harmony means combining things happening at the same time for a pleasing effect.
So if work-life balance means you’re splitting business and pleasure because what you do for a living doesn’t actually feel like living—if the only reason you do the job is because you need a paycheck—you NEED balance. You need to make sure you’ve got time away to plan your escape.
Pro Tip: If you’re only in it for the paycheck, do yourself a favor and start thinking about work-life parallel.
Work-life parallel means the things you DO at work bring value to your life beyond the paycheck. Ideally, you’re gaining experience and professional connections that have positive impacts on the rest of your life beyond the office. Think: the dealership mechanic who does side jobs, or working in marketing and learning how to better market your own company.
Work-life harmony is the hot setup, though. Too much of anything is a drag. You can love what you do so much that it consumes you to the point of damaging your health and relationships. Harmony comes from designing a life where it all comes together holistically in a way that feels healthy and happy for you and everyone else in your family.
Pro Tip: If you love what you do for a living, but find yourself thinking about work-life balance, you’re probably ready for work-life harmony.
It’s not self-help. It’s DIY.
If you’re not really into what you do for a living, that’s not much of a living. There’s still time to get work and life moving in the direction you want them to go—but only so much, ya know? This isn’t a place where we’re going to tell you just quit your job and chase your dream—unless you’re actually ready to do so. If you want more of your life to feel more like really, actually living, it might be time to start hanging out with people who know how that feels and are working on modifying their lives too.
You don’t have to join our community—but I can tell you it’s helped me on my work-life harmony journey. I’m not just the founder. I’m also a member. Haha.
Here’s the obligatory membership sign-up form.
PS: Still not sure about joining our secret society of next level gearheads? Contact me. I’ll arrange a tour for you so you can see how awesome it is.