Work, Life, Balance???

How come we make these things different? You have probably heard the quote:

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony

I think there are many ways to read this. One of them is – ‘I am having no fun – therefore I must be in the wrong job or doing the wrong thing.’

A variation on the theme is that work is ‘Work’ and play is ‘Play’ and the two are clear, distinct and separate. In this model, ‘Work’ carries with it a tinge of ‘suffering’. It is really easy to follow this with all of the reasons why you have to stick doing what you are doing – and so the cycle continues. You get to be right about how it sucks and suffer it. Or is it just me who left to his old habits does this :-).

Now, don’t get me wrong (I am a coach after all – change is the game…) it may well be that a change in career or starting the business you really want is the next thing to do and leave this one behind – however bear with me. My thinking is that ‘Job’ being ‘Work’ in which you are ‘Stuck’ in might have something for you.

Two things I have been reading and listening to have come together in a new way for me. The first is from Tara Brach (whose podcasts I thoroughly recommend – where in a recent talk she drew a distinction between ‘aversive judgment’ and ‘wise discernment’.  The other comes from Michael Singer and his bestsellerThe Untethered Soul. In a nutshell – events happen – and they become problems where we resist them – and the resistance is all our stuff. To put it another way – no resistance; no problems. Easily said – right?

Taking these distinctions into the ‘job’ that is ‘work’ – from ‘aversive judgment’ it may there to just be struggled through and survived – that you cannot be with it, or your co-workers, or your customers, or the daily grind, or all four… Your buttons get pushed – your stuff – your resistance. From here there is no space or freedom – it is a trap, a cage that you survive to keep the paychecks rolling in. After that you really need downtime and rest so you can just continue doing it. Is this ‘work life balance?’. Now let me be clear – it is not your fault that the job shows up for you like it does (nor anyone elses’) – it is just that is how it shows up for you. Period.

From a place that you can take responsibility for your stuff, the job becomes a place where you can see your stuff playing out. Things happen – you get triggered. And from there once you see it, you actually get to choose how it goes. Are you going to have your stuff dominate how the experience goes? Or are you going to see it as just your stuff and work with it? This is where resistance comes into focus.

Resisting life is hard work. Life is an infinite stream that keeps flowing no matter what we do. Resisting is trying to hold back a tide that is infinitely and forever coming in. We tend to resist it where our stuff gets triggered (we all have stuff – even the Buddha had stuff…) and we try to somehow manage it to make it better. What if it was just okay that our stuff got triggered? It is just stuff after all – stuff we made up, beliefs about how it ‘should’ go and what is the ‘right’ way for things to work out.

From aversive judgment – we make the job, the boss, the client, the circumstances wrong – we blame and get messy. And we are busy resisting it which takes even more energy. No wonder we suffer the experience!

The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” – Edward Gibbon

From discerning wisdom – we see that we get triggered – and we experience the wind and the waves. From there we have choice. How do we want to be with this experience? We can go down the reactive route or stay elevated where there is choice. From this perspective there is still the possibility this may not be the job of your dreams– where all of you gets to be put at service of your greatest and most heart-felt contribution to the world. Or maybe from elevation it is clear that it IS and you need support to get from your current experience to a more satisfying and empowering one.

So what about work and play? My invitation is to look at where you resist life and create work. If you take away the resistance, all there is left is play, and you get to never work another day in your life… Easily said right? Perhaps time to have a conversation with a Coach (just sayin’).

How about giving up the unwinnable fight for work-life balance and create a life of play instead?

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