Rejecting Work/Life Balance and Comfort

October 31, 2014 | Roger and Susie Engelau

I’ve proposed that we reject the pursuit of work-life balance in my last 2 blogs. Not only that, let’s also reject our pursuit of comfort.

Are there evenings where you spend 4 hours in your recliner with popcorn and the remote?  Or surf the internet, play computer games, or get 10 hours of sleep when you really needed 8?  Do you avoid doing the challenging work, physical or mental, instead choosing not to serve on the committee or make that speech? Are you a student of your craft or do you reject keeping up with new information and technology?

Comfort is the wrong goal. In last week’s post, I quoted Dan Thurman, “If you limit yourself to comfort, you deny yourself what’s possible.”  You can’t inspire others, accomplish goals, leave a legacy, or have great relationships when your ass is parked right in the middle of your comfort zone.

So, if we reject the pursuit of comfort and work-life balance, what strategy do we use to get through our too-hectic, stress-filled days?

We can do two things.

First, boil down.

Boil down what you’re doing to the essentials—relationships, your business, health. Whatever these are for you, be brutally focused on what you’re passionate about and let the other things go.  I work with most every business coaching client on this, have blogged about it, and run a quarterly workshop on it, working off Simon Sinek’s Start with WHY.  If you’re driven each day by your WHY, you’ll attract others who share your WHY.  You’ll have great customers andond devoted employees, all inspired to take action because you hook them with your purpose, your mission. The greatest companies and most effective individuals are those that’ve learned to harness that power of purpose.

Second, instead of maintaining the status quo, launch yourself into uncertainty with energy and drive. In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that working hard at something to the point that it pushes your life off-kilter is much more rewarding than doing something safe, easy, conflict-free, and fun.

The pursuit of comfort is deadly. Diabetes and heart disease are out of control and diet pills replace exercise. I felt I was getting weak, soft, and was overweight. I got convicted to get my butt out the door most mornings for a 2 mile run. Ten pounds have slowly disappeared (and I still eat popcorn while I watch the Colts play).

Over time, we develop habits—we find what works and we settle into it. But if we want to grow, and if we’re true to our pursuit of our passions, we must get out of our comfort zone. I hate getting in front of a camera but today’s marketing  demands it so Susie and I built a video studio in our basement and made videoing as comfortable and easy as we could, so I now can hop in front of the camera when a thought strikes me. It’s getting easier each time and it no longer hovers over my head as this thing I refuse to do.

Happiness and success require sacrifice. Let’s stop defining happiness by being comfortable and instead embrace challenge. Let’s boil down what gets our time to those things that support our life purpose, our WHY, and let ourselves be driven by the pursuit of our passions.