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Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 4:48 am
I think most things can be enjoyable in life, intellectual work, physical work, repetitive work, house chores, raising children, being too cold/hot, as long as they are in balance. Ultimately the joy comes from the fact of living.
What are your techniques for obtaining balance in life? Do you have a strategy?
Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 8:51 am
I may be misunderstanding the thrust of your question, but if I do understand, my response is that I've never been certain that balance is a desirable goal.
That is, there are seasons I've been through when 80% of my life and mental energy should have been focused on my children, or my career, or my marriage, or my health. Not days or weeks, but months or years. The other things in life that were pulling on me in those seasons usually did more harm than good. And strategy of balance would have sent me 'round the bend.
A wise older woman once said to me, "You can have it all, as a woman, but you can't have it all at the same time." I believe those words to be true for almost everyone.
In practical terms, I think managing your stress level, as part of your overall health care, is very important. But I think the people who chirp constantly about work-life balance would gain more ground if they reframed their focus to something like "preventing paid work from intruding" on other areas of life.
I was encouraged to see that Portugal passed a law this week making it illegal for bosses to text their employees outside working hours. First law of its kind, I believe. Curious to see what happens next with that issue.
Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 9:28 am
To echo GandK, I was able to shed a lot of stress when I started thinking in terms of dynamic equilibrium, as opposed to (ironically) stressing myself out or beating myself up for never attaining balance, which I’ve decided is kind of like balancing a chair on one leg. Balance is something that might be achievable for a short time in a very stable environment. But I don’t even like stable environments, so it’s not a good model for aspiration.
The model of dynamic equilibrium also frees me to experiment, or ‘over’focus on one thing for a time (a pulse, to stick with ecological terms), to flow over here and then there.
Beyond that framing, my strategies revolve around regular planning and reflection. I do weekly reviews where I take the time to review my values and principles, check in if what I’m doing is in good alignment, lay out ‘big chunks’ for projects, and then make a plan for the next week. I also do a bigger picture strategy session a few times a year. For me, this helps me not get too far from the path I want to be on without a course correction.
Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 11:38 am
Thanks for the input, it was not intentional but dawned on me after the fact that the shorter the OP obviously the more free to interpretation. But maybe it's not a bad thing in this case since I am not looking for an answer to a particular question/problem but would rather invite to a conversation!
@GandK, I would say that such a life that you described is balanced and flexible on top of that and you also know yourself well which is to be applauded. This is so interesting about that Portuguese law.
@AH, yes it would definitely be a dynamic equilibrium in my mind, too. Thinking of walking a slackline, all sorts of action happening there resulting in what appears a balancing act.
I guess the idea for this thread came from a few very prosaic and almost dull facts or observations
* I study now (formal - pursuing a degree). After a few days of not doing it (holidays), I now observe this very well known to me boost in understanding coming from allowing a few days for subconscious consolidation.
* my exercise routine was on hold for a few days, feels so good to get back to the swing with it.
* when studying, I use pomodoros i.e. 25min study followed by a few minutes break (thanks @jollyscott). When away, I was reading a book and not having this regulating mechanism would make me read for too long and have a drop in focus.
* I still work. My work is now much more blue collar than it used to be a couple of months ago. In result I retain much more mental mana to think, read, have meaningful chats with DW.
* Intermittent fasting feels to me like balancing, somehow. I suppose this is to do with how I arrive at a meal at some point and focus on it better rather than eating a little bit often time.
Also, what do you think about burnout, would you consider it something undesirable in your life? I don't mean a total life burnout which I would equate with depression, but localised one with the career being the most obvious example. A positive approach to burnout re careers (or call them major projects in life) would be to focus on one intensely for a limited period of time and then move on to another, embarking on a new journey every few years.
Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 9:54 pm
I would certainly prefer to approach major projects with either more intention, strategy, or luck, such that they terminate in a "natural" death rather than the pain and suffering of burnout. If burnout is what terminates a project, presumably I'll feel that I have unfinished business with it - at least my last impression of it will be one of bitterness or other negative emotions.
I feel that with appropriate realtime self-awareness, you'll notice whiffs of symptoms like lagging intrinsic motivation, doubts as to the efficacy of pursuing the project much further, etc. Upon noticing these, it should trigger focused reflection and eventually a deliberate shutdown or phase out of that project, before full localized burnout occurs.
Some projects will have a finite desired outcome (aka "build a house"), and some are infinite games ("play the guitar"). They might require different approaches to end-of-life, but few projects of any sort last until the death of the organism, so a wise and intentional approach to project death I think must be a part of this dynamic equilibrium state. tl;dr: burnout=failure.
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:22 pm
Sorry sometimes I have this tendency for idiosyncratic interpretation of words, so I basically thought of a candle burning out.
Ironically, my Psych degree supervisor was researching burnout; however I stuck with him because he was the only one who would allow me to research whatever I wanted which in that case was figuring out why people run marathons.
But one thing you mentioned that is pretty often on my mind is timescale to plan for. Catching myself thinking 'what is the point of this?' tends to lead me to some sort of infinity, given enough time for meditating over it! I liked Carse's book, maybe should give it a second read.