I celebrated my 60th birthday by biking with a friend in the Tucson Sonoran desert. The work of a CEO, like many jobs, can be consuming and stressful. Surrounded by towering 200 year old saguaro cacti with oddly human profiles, I pondered my lack of preoccupation with “life balance.”
For many years, I attempted to “balance” family, work, friends and personal time. Having maintained two illusions regarding this issue, I failed to achieve equilibrium. The first illusion maintained these aspects of my life conflicted with each other and the second reflected the possibility of permanent balance. My calendar and daily schedule drove illusory balancing acts. I calculated the number of hours per week of work time countered by x, y and z hours of family time, personal time and friend time respectively. Having created “adequate” time for each dimension, I frequently felt pre-occupied with work when engaged with “scheduled” family time and the other non-work pursuits.
No longer thinking about “balance,” I reflect on “navigating” aspects of my life in ways that provide energy and help me remain present. Some aspects of my work, such as participation in long meetings and handling extensive paperwork, drain me of energy. However, by connecting with my passions of being with teams, improving the patient experience and working to increase the affordability of healthcare through improved quality I feel energized. Spending time with my wife, children and grandchildren fill me with energy. Biking with friends feels playful and renewing.
My futile approach to “balancing life” assumed a scarcity of energy carefully rationed and conserved across the dimensions of work, home and personal time. Navigating among sources of passion assumes a mentality of abundance.
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