Our culture of consumption measures success by increased output (i.e. the growth of the GDP) and there is an aching undercurrent of faster, better, more. This applies to businesses and individuals. We try to balance work, family, exercise, rest, social life, etc...but how many of us feel like work gets most of our time and attention at the expense of the other things? I know I do. But to admit that sounds like I'm not a hard worker, which is not the case at all. It's just that our society values output and production - fortunately, we are also beginning to value sustainability. I say that to make a fulfilling and successful career sustainable in the long run, we must embrace balance in the beginning. Workaholism is not sustainable - and neither is its cousin, drinking more coffee than water. But when I get to encounter amazing people and share invigorating ideas, it replenishes me. That's the reason I have the energy to write this blog right now.
Today I went for a midday walk in the Bolsa Chica wetlands (squashing the guilt I always feel when I do anything other than WORK). The fresh breeze, glimmering water and mesmerizing birds actually did little to alleviate the constant pressure I live with every day. There's client work, business development and cash flow worries. I felt guilty for walking but I knew I needed to do it (it would have been a run but I am sick and still wanted the fresh air).
In my last post I compared the challenges of running a new business to feeling like a waitress carrying multiple trays. Sometimes you just need to set the trays down for a second. The walk was my second, and it helped at least to recognize that the plates full of household chores (dishes, laundry, vacuuming) and self-care items (manicure!!!) are important too. If I'm only focusing on the work projects and ignoring my personal and household care, I feel terrible and gross. To keep up the pace and not drop the trays, I have to do things like take walks to gain perspective and maintain stamina. But I still have a long way to go before I don't feel guilty all of the time - that's because my inner self wants to please everyone but at the same time rejects the existing standard of an unsustainable chunk of life dedicated to working, working, working.
I need to sleep, play, laugh, dance and sleep (did I already say that?) so that I can be present and focused when I am writing/pitching/planning, etc. It's not sustainable to be imbalanced. And in the green movement, if we are going to talk sustainabilility, let's try to live it too. It's 11:20pm and I should go to bed, but I'm going to be a hypocrite now and go back to work. Why? Because that's the way it is. It's not the way I want it to be though, and little by little I will become the change I wish to see. Today I took a walk, and tomorrow, by G-d, I am getting a manicure!