This is something I’ve been considering recently: what if it’s not about balance, and it’s more about the motivation behind what you’re doing?
I know a lot of people that are getting burned out. They’re not excited about the work they’re doing. They feel exhausted at the end of the day. They thought they pursued the right thing in school and now they’re unsure because it’s not fulfilling.
This is the thing, for centuries people didn’t work because it was “fulfilling.” They worked because they had to make money. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that people started choosing their occupation. Until then, your status at birth or your family’s trade was what you were expected to do.
The options we have today and the freedom we have in developed countries give us so much to consider. Work has become something that has a completely different type of pressure because instead of just providing means to live, it also has to provide purpose, fulfillment, validation, and “success”. In the past, many of those things were provided by relationships: success was determined by marriage or having sons, fulfillment was provided by a close-knit community, purpose was found in the way you contributed to society, validation was not even a popular word until the 1980's.
My thought is, our culture and economy has evolved immensely in the last few centuries, but I’m not sure our mindset has. The era of social media is upon us and we’re constantly bombarded with ads, videos, and tweets. We lack true community, marriage is uncertain, and the way people contribute to society is by posting about their latte art. We live in a time where our jobs mean so much to us and it’s getting harder and harder for people to pretend that it’s still the 1300s so I guess I’ll just be a stonecarver like my dad (yes I did just Google “occupations 1300s”) .
So I see two options in front of us: we revert or we shift. We either choose to go back to the way we used to think (this is not a bad thing) and we resolve to be content and grateful that the job we have provides us with a life we get to enjoy. Personally I view this as the more challenging path. Or, option two, we shift into mindset so many millennials are embracing: if the work isn’t meaningful, I don’t want to do it. With this option we create a culture where people do get to contribute to society because they’re passionately adding value to the world just by being who they are. Fulfillment and purpose are entwined and occur naturally. They don’t seek validation because they’re just grateful to be doing what they love. This option does have its drawbacks because not everyone will figure out how their gifts + desires = money. But I wonder if this became the culture how different our world would look.
It all boils down to this: you create your reality. You can choose to be grateful for where you are and what you’re doing and embrace it genuinely and wholeheartedly. Or you can choose to find your innate skills, tune into your hearts tugs, and make the life you know is out there for you.