Much has been written about work-life balance. When my generation went to school and started our careers, work was Monday thru Friday, often 10-12 hours a day. Life was supposed to happen on the weekends. The boss would say, “Go home, spend some time with your family.” We lived for weekends and for vacations. We were told to work hard, pay our dues, save our money and plan for retirement – the day when we could enjoy life.
It was bad advice.
Life does not happen just on the weekends, or during vacations, or when we retire. Life happens every day, in every moment. There is no “saving” it for another time. There is practically no separation between work and life today in any case. Work is life. Many of us work from home. We are always “on,” connected to our devices and available 24/7 at the whims of bosses, clients and co-workers.
Allow me to depart some friendly advice: If you don’t take it as you go, you ain’t ever gonna get it.
This is not to say that you should not save and plan. Just don’t wait to live and enjoy all aspects of your life. John Lennon said it best, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.” Delayed gratification is an over-rated concept. The journey is indeed more important than the destination. This is especially true if you have more years behind you than you do ahead of you.
Here are some tips for taking it as you go:
1. When you travel for business, take an extra day or two to see the sights. Don’t be in such a rush to get home, or back to the office. If possible, have your mate fly in and join you at the end of the business part of your trip, or look up an old friend who lives near the city you are visiting.
2. Make a “no regrets” list and tick the items off every chance you get. No need to wait for the perfect time, or the right budget, to start doing the things you want to do in life. Whether it is traveling, learning a language or instrument, writing a book, or staring a business – keep a list, look at it every day, then seize every opportunity to tick them off. Measure your life by the things you have crossed off your list, not the things that remain to be done.
3. Do it alone. Probably one of the biggest mistakes people make in life, is waiting for someone else to be ready when they are. It is often difficult to sync two or more lives, you have to live your own life. If your mate, or your parents, or your kids, or your best friends are not “ready” – go do it without them. If you wait until they are ready, you might not be ready (or you might be dead).
4. Don’t just think about it — plan it and start doing it. The act of reserving a ticket, signing up for the class, listening to the Podcast, outlining the book or article to write, buying a used instrument, incorporating a company….etc., etc…has a power all its own. The act of moving towards something will magically pull you towards it.
5. Play hooky. Take a day off now and then, call in sick – go do something fun. Your work can wait, your life can not.
There is no such thing as work-life balance. Seriously, this is the best advice I could ever give you. If you want to get the most out of life, take it as you go.