We’ve made a lot of progress along our journey to bridge the work-life gap of the creative. We’ve realized our passions, redefined the way we view success, work, and play. Now, you may be thinking “These realizations and definitions are great, BUT when do we, for real, bridge this work-life gap? When will I figure out this whole work-life balance thing?”
Well, I have news. The goal is NOT to help you balance work and life. In fact, each step we have taken has led up to one crucial discovery: The desired work-life balance, which you think will help you attain the happiest and best version of yourself… is a complete and utter hoax.
What IS Work-Life Balance?
I’m sure you can guess where I’m going next. There are problems with this modern view of the necessity of work-life balance.
Why the Work-Life Balance is a Hoax
We talked about this in our last post, but for those of you who need a refresher, having a need for work-life balance means that we support the dichotomy between work and leisure (or play). In short, if you believe in the need for work-life balance, you believe that work and play/life are two separate things. There are many problems in seeing work and life as separate but the biggest of them is an obvious decrease in happiness.
Believing in and trying to attain the work-life balance brings with it a persistent struggle to either “get there” or “maintain the balance”. In short, this is a vicious cycle of stress, anxiety and fatigue with little reward.
This endless balance quest can also negatively impact our creative work. Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters once said: “Guilt is a cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, destroy you as an artist. It’s a black wall. It’s a thief.” This guilt that we create for ourselves by not achieving work-life balance will seep into our creative work and prevent us from performing to our fullest potential.
The solution to these problems to realize that it’s not work-life balance that will make you happy at all. Having two lives (you are only one person, after all) is the main cause of your creative (and life) distress. Now, if happiness really comes from having the smallest separation between work and play, then we need work-life integration.
To reach happiness, we need to see life as a whole. These two “lives” are part of the same ecosystem. So how do you bring them together as closely as possible?
First, you need to remove the desire (in fact the whole concept of it) for work-life balance from your head as it is not actually achievable.
Second, consider and try to implement different ways to integrate your passions into work. How can you bring your love for, say, sculpture, into your own creative work? If not as a final product, then maybe as part of the creative process? Consider how to unify passions and work from all angles. On the flip side, look for ways to bring your work skills and knowledge into your life. Many creatives are already on this path, as they attempt to redesign every experience to be more pleasant and more effective..
Third, don’t judge success through life or work accomplishments but by the answer to one simple question: Am I happy with whom I am? This is the only question that really matters.
By implementing these three steps, you will start to integrate your work into your life. By closing the artificially created gap between the two and continuing to keep your creative passions alive, your creativity will flourish.
Now, you may think this sounds ridiculous. Maybe you are happy keeping work and life separate. Maybe even you think you are a whiz at this work-life balance thing. Here is the thing, though: If you enjoy your work and life being separate, then you are probably not truly living your passions to the fullest. Work-life integration IS the secret, with absolutely amazing outcomes for creatives!
Once we let go of the work-life balance myth, we can truly live our passions. Creatives are already very passionate people, and living and working with our passions makes us (and anyone, really) happier, more content, more successful and most importantly, healthier. Our creativity skyrockets since we are no longer bound by imaginary constraints that hold our creations back instead of propelling them forward.
Once work-life integration is attained, you will more clearly see that there is no gap to bridge, only a clear path towards actively keeping your creative passions alive.
We’ve come a long way, but along this journey, I hope you have learned that you are the master of your own creative fate. In my next and final installment, we’ll talk about how to stay passionate and how to reflect, adapt, and iterate as you grow as a person and as a creative.
Until then, don’t worry… be happy!