Life consists only of moments…nothing more than that. So if you make the moment matter, it all matters. ~Ellen Langer, Mindfulness in an Age of Complexity (HBR)
I’ve been preaching the doctrine of work/life balance for so long I can’t remember where I picked it up. And I do believe it: there is a balance to be had as we go about our days and navigate the domains of work, family, health, opportunity, children, aging parents who won’t fucking listen, self. It’s as I’ve labored my mightiest — and sacrificed needs, wants, and desires in the process— to find balance that I’ve discovered balance is an illusion. Balance arrives in small moments that land and take flight, as lightly as a tern on the shore, before we even know it was there. All we have is a lingering soupcon, an inkling of pause, before we are back to our flying trapeze, ready for the next showing of the circus act to begin.
In her article above, Ellen Langer shares an idea around work/life integration, that I think is very of-the-moment. It’s all flowing together right now, so the concept of work/life balance doesn’t apply like it did. We are being forced to integrate all of our domains into one, and it is a bumpy, uncomfortable, and confusing transition fraught with all kinds of questions, reckonings, and guilt-ridden day drinking.
The expectations we had in place for ourselves have blown up. We are seeing ourselves, our partners, our children, our work, all of it very differently. What we were making do with is no longer disguised by the myriad of distractions we had at our disposal. Why consider the distance we felt from our partner when we could pour another glass of wine and zone out to Netflix for the evening? Why take an honest look at our health and how we “suddenly” had an extra 20 pounds on our body when we could take advantage of our Prime membership and get all kinds of fun shit delivered to the house? Why look for another job that could give us an outlet for learning, growth, and creativity when we’ve got the steady-eddy job with benefits and flexibility (but do you really flexibility)? All the questions we opted not to answer must now be considered, if not full-on answered. We cannot keep things separate — balanced — because it all so is not.
Work/life integration acknowledges that moments are what we have. Are all we’ve…