It’s a common belief that nobody on their deathbed ever says that they wished they had spent more time in the office.
I think we can all understand the sentiment, but is it universally true?
Inherent in this sentiment is that work and life are separate and that work is a means to get more of the good stuff, life.
There’s an assumed belief in this sentiment that work is something we have to do, not necessarily something we want to do and that there is an unavoidable tension between the two. This often comes with a feeling that we are forced to compromise on both, hoping we don’t completely drop the ball at work or lose touch with our family and friends. An unsatisfying juggle.
But what if you love what you do for work and you feel it makes a significant contribution to the world? What if work feels like an expression of who you truly are? Does that tip the scales in a different direction? I’m guessing most people would say yes.
But what if we got rid of the scales completely? What if we looked at things in a different way, rather than getting the illusive right amount of work and life, we aimed to increase the amount of times we find ourselves in a state of flow. Not thinking about what has happened or what needs to happen, but following your inner flow and being completely absorbed.
We often think that the state of flow is only available to writers, artists, sportspeople and the like when actually it is available to us all. One of the key ingredients of flow is a clear mind. One that is calm and focused and devoid of over activity. It is the snow globe in its settled state, where everything seems clear and easeful. It feels good. But when we start overthinking, a thought storm is created and the clarity and state of flow disappears. It feels bad.
We have an innate wisdom within us that let’s us know when it is time to rest, time to work, time to play and if we listen to it we naturally find a state of balance.
Young children give us a beautiful depiction of this, effortlessly shifting from sleeping to playing to eating, trusting the innate wisdom within them rather than getting in their own way and questioning it, overthinking it, analysing it, worrying about it and asking people for opinions for it.
Know that others may observe your approach and decide your doing too much or too little work in their eyes. Remember this is their perspective, a product of their state of mind and expectations not yours. Don’t let it turn your thoughts into overdrive and result in you losing that state of flow.
Try to aim for flow, not balance, and see if things naturally balance out for you. Our bodies are filled with incredible feedback systems to try to help us reach a state of homeostasis if we follow the clues. If we are feeling tired, rest. If we are feeling hungry, eat. If we are feeling in a state of flow, ride the wave. If we trust it, over time you might just find your perfect flow unfolding.