From the conversations I have had so far, it is clear that a life of balance is what many of us aspire to, and this is no surprise. For who really wants to be working at the detriment of their mental/physical health, or at the expense of healthy relationships? Although the answer to this seems obvious, we often do not have the opportunity to answer this for ourselves.
We live in a fast-paced world; one which appears to be getting faster as technology advances. Whilst this has its benefits, a fast-paced world means that we are not afforded the time to take inventory of the areas in our lives that are out of balance. Oxford Languages defines balance as ‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady’. Although this definition is referring to tangible things, it can also be applied to our inner being. In order for us to remain ‘upright and steady’, we need to even the distribution between “hustle” and rest. Rest both in terms of sleep, and simply taking a break from our to-do lists.
During my conversation with Jeff, he mentioned a Japanese saying – Karoshi, which literally means ‘death by overwork’. Without the real-life stories to back this up, it would almost sound hyperbolic to say that one could die from their day-job. I say day-job to highlight how overworking has become interwoven into our everyday lives. A frightening reality. Our society is not set up to allow us to be, instead we are told we need to be more “productive” – which normally involves less sleep, less hobbies, less time with loved ones. Less. Less. Less. Until there is nothing left of us.
It is undeniable that work is a necessary part of our reality. Not only is it required to put food on the table, but the higher paid your work, the more freedom it affords you to live the life you truly want. Money gives us options. Therefore, idleness is not what is being promoted here, neither is mediocrity. But as Rita said, “you can’t have success before you have the foundations of success”. What is success if your inner being is in shambles? As Rita also mentioned, her experience of burnout is what forced her into valuing rest. Her story is one of many which prove that “hustle” and “productivity” without rest, is not a sustainable lifestyle. A wholistic life is what we should be pursuing, and this will entail different elements, and different quantities of those elements for each person.
What is life if you cannot experience it fully? Take inventory. Make a list of those things that you hope to do more of, and list the things you can do less of. Perhaps you will need to start saying no to certain invitations or opportunities. Or perhaps waking up earlier will make room for your balanced life. Only you truly know your capacity. But you should not have to wait until you are burnout to start valuing rest: try “resting along the way” (Rita).
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