The highest levels of performance in sports, the workplace, school, or the nonprofit world, never happen without trade-offs and sacrifice. The extra hour an Olympic athletic spends training is an hour less he or she can spend with their family. The extra effort it takes to win that major client project means chipping away at your personal life. For most people, the illusive idea of work/life balance is an illusive ideal, because it’s one of the most difficult goals you can achieve.
That’s why I moved from seeking “balance” to seeking “purpose.” That’s one of the main reasons I wrote my recent book “One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do.” When you discover the purpose for your life, your work shifts from being a “job” to being a “passion.” It’s what allows Olympic athletes to push harder, stay longer, and find more fulfillment. It also lessens the sacrifice on those around you because they don’t see stress on your face, they see someone pursuing their destiny.
Stress happens because we’re out of sync with what we’re doing for a living. That’s when trade-offs and sacrifices seem the most acute, because our job seems so unmoored from who we are and what we’re born to accomplish with our lives. But when we find that over-arching purpose, the jobs we express that purpose through suddenly have meaning. They don’t seem disconnected from our lives – in fact, we often see our lives reflected through that very work.
That’s why great athletes, entrepreneurs, leaders, artists, and innovators don’t see it as a conflict between “work” and “life,” because it’s all a single expression of someone who has discovered their ultimate purpose, and reason for being.