Work/Life Balance

Life Happens: Is It Happening To You Or Is It Happening For You?

Is life happening to you?

Or is life happening for you?

To put it into a more personal form the two questions we could ask ourself when faced with one of life’s difficulties (aka challenges) is:

  1. Why is this happening to me?

  2. Why is this happening for me?

In a sense, both are true, but the form of the question you choose to focus on makes all the difference in the quality of your experience as you work through the challenge (aka problem).

Question 1 puts us in victim-mode where one has little-to-no personal power. With this question, we will focus on all the reasons the difficulty has attacked our life & why it is fucking up our happiness.

Mini Case Study:

Example 1: You get two new massive projects at work on the same day & they are both due on same day. Oh yeah, and all your other plentiful work you had before the two new work projects showed up still have to be done as well. You think to yourself, “FML! How am I going to get all this done?! This is going to kill my work/life balance & my happiness is fucked for the next two weeks! I guess I am just unlucky and will have to suffer through it. Once I get through it then I can finally go back to enjoying my life.”

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin:

Using the format of Question 2 puts us in victor-mode where we have massive power. With this question, we will focus on all that can be GAINED from the experience and how it can ADD to the awesomeness of our life.

Example 1 re-imagined with a Question 2 frame of mind: Same scenario at work hits, two massive projects hit your desk. Though you’re initially slightly overwhelmed you start asking yourself how this can benefit your work and your life. You start looking at it like the next challenge that is going to create the growth you’ve been needing to reach the next level of your career and also the next level of your life. You think to yourself, “Wow! This is more than I’ve ever done all in the same timeframe. I am really going to learn a ton and grow massively. Even more, I get to practice taking work to the next level and still live a life outside of work that is seriously awesome! I’m gonna be stretched, I’m gonna be uncomfortable, but I’m excited because I know that it is outside of my comfort zone where all the growth happens. Damn, I’m lucky this opportunity came along! Things were feeling a bit too easy lately and nothing like a hard challenge to bring some adventure into my life! YEEEEEHAWWWW! Let’s do this!”

Visualizing all the awesome growth I’m gonna gain from my challenging work adventure.

Visualizing all the awesome growth I’m gonna gain from my challenging work adventure.

If we look back on our life at the most challenging times & trials we usually point to these as the formative experiences that have created the good & great part of ourselves that we & others admire.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize this until way after the experience has passed. Yet, we can train ourselves to actually recognize when one of these tough life altering experiences are underway. It takes a macro view of one’s life to see them as they are happening. We must zoom out and ask ourselves, “Is this one of those experiences that is going to massively move me forward and/or fundamentally change me and my life for the better once I solve it?” If the answer is yes, then we can consciously embrace the adventure as it is happening versus getting beat down by it.

Let me be honest, this is not easy to do. Fear is going to try hide the gifts of the situation from us. Fear is going to try to make us suffer, play victim, play small, bitch, moan & complain. This is when we gotta dig deep. Like real deep. And tap into that fuzzy thing called faith. With some faith in our power to direct & experience our lives in an empowering way we can choose the attitude & mindset that makes the experience worthwhile during the actual experience. [Instead of waiting for months or even years to glean the gold from the adventure.]

So, in order to direct our lives in the best way possible, we must constantly work to consciously choose which frame of mind we are approaching any situation.

Mindset is everything AND energy flows where focus goes.

Do you want your mind wasting precious energy on all the reasons why such and such situation sucks so bad?

Or do you want your mind looking for all Gold to be mined from the challenging growth-inducing awesome situation?

The latter option is the harder choice for most of us, myself included, and it is something we have to constantly practice.

Even now in my life, I am facing family challenges & professional challenges. The case study above is from real life.

The lazy & weak part of myself wants to focus on “poor me, why is this happening to me?”

At the same time, my wiser self is quietly reminding me to focus on “Holy fuck! This is awesome! So much to be learned & gained! I’m going to grow massively from these golden opportunities! I love how life is always happening for me! YEEHAW!!”

I’m writing this as a reminder to myself to listen to the wiser part of myself. And not only to listen quietly but to crank up the volume because it’s always a fine time to celebrate the awesomeness of LIFE!!

If you are in a challenging phase of life try searching for how life is happening FOR you. It may just alchemize your life!



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Cultivating Work With True Heart & Meaning (AKA: How To Avoid Unhealthy Workism)

The article, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable,” made me think hard about work. After pondering it for a couple of weeks here are some thoughts:

I deeply believe that in order to find happiness & meaning in work one needs to clearly define a personal mission & make sure one’s weekly work aligns with that mission. Otherwise work is just a paycheck and there are millions of ways to make money. 

If your inner world is undefined, your outer world will be undefined & meaningless. 
And humans by default almost always strive for “more”—money, work, things, tv, social media, etc. even when it's detrimental to health & balance in one's life and even when it's meaningless. 

Again, an undefined personal life purpose leads to a life of drift & personal detriment.

I also firmly believe that balance is achieved by opposing muscles of different life areas pulling against one another. This is how you balance in a challenging yoga pose, this is how you balance a challenging life. Therefore strong work muscles must be counterbalanced by strong rejuvenation muscles.

The awesome thing about many workplaces these days, at least the ones Oh My Green has the pleasure to serve, is that they have awesome world-changing missions AND high fidelity rejuvenation built into their daily/weekly culture. This includes healthy/delicious snacks & catering, meditation, yoga & even life/career coaching so that each individual is empowered to live healthfully and empowered to define/live their purpose & values.

Furthermore, all of our customers realize that their people are their most valuable asset and by not only providing for them, but actually empowering them with their personal development they are paving the way to a place where work can be fun, fulfilling & balanced with the rest of the equally important aspects of their life including family, hobbies, physical fitness, traveling, learning, spiritual growth and all the other awesome aspects of the good life.

When I step back and look at the possibilities provided to the people at the companies we work with every week I am amazed at just how much personal care & personal development is provided. Nonetheless, we all must take it upon ourself to actually utilize these resources & build our own version of an empowered life.

So, what if you are suffering from “Workism”? What can you do? Here are 4 ways you can alchemize your work/life:

  • Discover & develop your personal mission. Then make sure this aligns with your company’s mission or find a new company that does align with it. [Here’s a short article with resources for discovering/developing your mission.]

  • Define your personal values and make sure your company respects them (or find one that does). When you consciously know what values create heart & meaning in your life and your work is aligned with them defaulting to unhealthy workism will be a rare occasion.

  • Take a vacation from work. Sign off completely. Put up an email autoresponder. Don’t fucking read a single email or take work calls during your vacation. I’m dead serious. If you are so burnt out from work you can barely think it’s going to be pretty hard to discover or develop your personal mission or reflect on your values. Often times we need to create space and/or inner silence to be able to hear our Spirit or Higher Self’s guidance on our next steps.

  • Get your financial house in order. If you can’t even afford to take a break or risk looking for a new job that actually aligns with your mission & values you’ve become a slave to your job, money has become your master and workism will be your religion. [Here is an article about me facing my own money darkness & here is a progress report on my personal finances from last year.]

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life & your work-life! Even at my own company which has a super powerful mission and lots of empowering life-enhancing benefits, generous PTO, & flexible work arrangements I see plenty of employees getting CRUSHED by workism. I personally tell everyone I can that our mission of “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives” will NOT be personally served up on a silver platter. Each one of us will have to actively work each day and week to create our personal version of health & bliss. That means setting & holding boundaries around one’s schedule/workload, actively scheduling time off for rejuvenation, and actually taking advantage of all the benefits offered. I believe this holds true for all the tens of thousands of employees we serve at offices across the nation. No company will do all the work of creating a work/life filled with heart, meaning & balance—that is our personal responsibility.

Taking action on any one of these 5 steps will catalyze you towards a life really worth living for! In truth, taking action & taking responsibility really does cure most things. No one can do it for you. Like they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Don’t be that horse.


END NOTES:

  • Special thanks to our Oh My Green CEO, Michael Heinrich, for sharing the “Workism” article in our company newsletter that spawned this blog post. You continue to be an incredibly empowering leader, mentor & best friend.

  • Additional deep thanks to Derek Thompson for writing the article and making me think so hard about my own work/life, my company, & the companies we serve.

  • Title photo by my dear friend & uber-talented photographer Noelle Johnson.



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