For many years countless people have written about hustling as hard you can and push for everything you want. Don’t let up. Get it all. Get everything you want. Make sacrifices. You have to give up things you love in order to get what you really want. Reading that stuff makes you feel energized for a season. It makes you feel like you can climb mountains and maybe even move mountains. It makes you feel like there is no obstacle you can’t overcome and no goal you can’t achieve. And that all sounds and feels great…until it doesn’t.
Then, there came the work/life balance movement, and it was a huge swing in the other direction. That probably resonated with me even more because I was coming out of a season of years spent on the road, building an organization, and beginning to reap some of what I had sowed, figuratively and literally. I began to feel like the hustle had gotten me nowhere and everywhere at the same time and I was caught in the middle. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t keep hustling and I couldn’t stand still. It was a terrible place to be. Nothing seemed like it fit anymore, and I was lost.
I spent 6 years in and out of this tension without ever fully resolving it. Sure, some times were better than others, and I felt better at points than I did at others, but it wasn’t sustainable. My identity was so tightly wrapped up in what I did for a living and who I had become, I did not know who I was anymore. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying either. I had many people around me telling me different things and trying to convince me that I needed to take one path or the other, but after trying a couple of different things, nothing felt quite right.
Recently I had this realization that life is going to suck, and it’s going to be great, sometimes in the same moment. For someone who disavowed chaos due to a very chaotic upbringing, this has been hard for me to get my head wrapped around, but it’s true. Life is hard, and it’s messy. It is not going to make sense much of the time. It ebbs and flows. The good times never last as long as we wish they would and the hard times always last longer than they should.
But what I am learning is that there is no ‘balance’ in life. It’s a series of decisions. Choices that have consequences. Moments that matter. But it took me years of trying to achieve the mythical work/life balance to realize there is no such thing, and it is as frustrating as the hustle was to my younger self. The key is to practice good self-care, which is the missing component in many leader’s lives. In learning that balance is not a real thing, and focusing more on self-care, I’ve learned that a rhythm is the thing I have been missing and that I have flirted with is the concept of achieving a rhythm. There is a rhythm to our daily lives and those rhythms become the heartbeat of our lives, in the most literal sense. The choices and moments of our lives make up that rhythm, so what we do matters. Even those small, seemingly inconsequential choices contribute to the rhythm because of the consequences of those choices.
If we all strived to achieve a healthy rhythm in our lives, and took better care of ourselves, could we relax more and contribute more at the same time? I believe we could. I believe we can. It’s about getting organized, minimizing, and more intentional about what we commit our resources to. When we are in rhythm we are better able to overcome obstacles, stay in the moment, work through the inevitable chaos, and see things that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
With a clearer vision, we can move more intentionally, breath easier, and create the future we want to have. This is even more important during those seasons of life where the pace would normally be unbearable. So that rhythm is what I am striving for and am encouraging all of you to achieve.
Get in rhythm. Practice good self-care. Be intentional. Stay in the moment. Embrace the challenges. Be awesome.