The Suck Factor of Life Balance + Passion as a Cure to Stress
I no sooner want to be balanced than I want to be a “good” girl. “Balance” is not something I want to live down to.
If consensus is overrated, I think balance is too. I have no interest in living
a balanced life. I want a life of adventure.
– Chris Guillebeau
In the end, the quest for balance is bogus. Love your burdens. Love them hard. And when your loves knock you down or your weak ankles trip you up, stop worrying about balancing – ‘cuz you’re not – and bounce.
– Kelly Diels
Life balance. Low fat cheese. Walking shoes. Small talk.
Life balance. The term makes me feel bloated and late for my own party.
Life balance. Stressful.
The pursuit of balance makes us juggle. It puts us behind (always behind,) makes us guilty, neglectful, imbalanced. It’s as useful a concept as original sin. You can never get it right.
If you want to do great things, striving for balance is a losing game. I don’t think remarkable artists, scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, or generous souls set out on their giving journeys with the aim to be measured and harmonious. Meeting your potential is inherently full of tension (creative tension.) Trying to be balanced about it is onerous and futile.
Fuhget about it. Put balance on pause and feel into…
The out-of-whackness of your life – gigs, kids, commitments, projects. It’s a lot. Yes, indeed it is.
The passion in your cells – to eat life whole, to innovate, to score, to, as Emerson put it, “leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition.”
The hunger to fill the hole in your soul – doesn’t matter how it got there – if it’s there, it’s there.
The aspirations that show up as dreams or strategies.
The curves of your drive.
[HOLD FOR THE PUNCHLINE:]
If you’re alive, ambitious, or depressed; inventive, in the lead, or rapturous – you are imbalanced. The off-kiltering of your life may make you gasp – in grief or in glory. You could be on the leading edge of your consciousness – thriving. You could be a total mess. Things may need to be put in proper order. Loved ones. Goals. Your well being. Your mental clutter. Your blood pressure. Your Mastercard statement. But…
[THIS IS THE PUNCHLINE:]
I burn a lot of omlettes. It’s a regular occurrence – I’m drawing robots with my kid, I’m jotting down an idea I don’t want to lose, I’m taking the call. And then the smoke alarms goes off. I “work” on holidays. Last Monday I stayed in bed and read all day. I send birthday gifts three months early or three months late – but it’s just the right gift. I can eat cereal every day for a week, wearing the same clothes, never leaving the house because I want to finish a book. I like last minute trips out of town and not answering email for days. The last time I was at a monastery, I tweeted about it.
This is not a balanced life. But it works. And the more I pursue my passions, the more uncomplicated my life gets, actually. There’s not much in my life that I resent. And if resentment builds, I’m swift to get it off my plate. It’s not the imbalance-ness that stresses me, it’s doing meaningless things that aren’t taking me where I want to go.
MOTHERS + CEOs
When we talk about the whole life balance issue, working mothers are central to the conversation. How does the screw-life-balance-and-go-for-passion theory apply when you’re juggling P ‘n L’s and macaroni ‘n cheese? It’s about an overall proportion in your life, not perfection. It’s a work hard / play hard equation. It’s about draining your reserves and filling them up again with precious moments or a stolen day. You give give give give give and give some more, and then you get. It’s a wonky equation – creating works of art always is – but if you don’t stress about how you “should do it”, you can create the best way to do it.
When passion is a priority – passion for family, vocation, for meaning – your energy intensifies. And when your energy is more focused, more, “aimed”, you begin to care less about the things that don’t really matter. You avoid crappy jobs, you stop over-controlling your kids, you nag and complain much less – with everyone. You get the help you need to pull off the important things – whether you’re a CEO or an aspiring freelancer, and that support takes the form of a house cleaner, a VA, or a friend or mentor to jam with.
REFUSE TO BE BALANCED
When you refuse the banality of balance and go for full on life (which includes full on productivity and full on stillness,) you’ll see the inevitable mess of it all as something more beautiful and purposeful – full of peaks and valleys – an adventure. The climb can be rigorous, grueling sometimes, but the air is cleaner, and the view will blow your mind. The fruit you’ll find on your own tilted path is so much sweeter – and there’s so much more of it to share.
Danielle LaPorte is the outspoken creator of The Desire Map, author of The Fire Starter Sessions (Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. An inspirational speaker, former think tank exec and business strategist, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over a million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality”, and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes.
*Featured image by Tom Blackwell