I just came back from my first weekend at the seaside, this year – during what seems to be the first year of my life when I’m really getting a grip on practicing the easier-said-than-done acts of mindufulness, peace of mind, focus on the present moment and active abandonment of overthinking and panic. Brought, mostly, by my ambitions and struggles to achieve more, do more, do better, go bigger. It’s funny how the good things we aim towards can be both our motivation and our barriers.
The point is, this is the first year I’m taking some time off work without experiencing anxiety and an extreme sense of responsibility about all that must, should or could happen. And, no, this does not mean I’m not opening my emails or answering important messages or phone calls (I see the value and purpose of 100% disconnection, I’m not there yet and don’t believe in it fully, in part due to my digitally „always online” profession). It means I am at peace, finally, with four essential, if not vital, ideas about how work and life should stay in harmony:
1. Work and life balance means that work is an integrated part of our life universe, alongside with all other parts: relationships, family, me-time, hobbies, parties, travels, etc. They are not two different worlds. The moment we become at peace with this, we can stop fighting the epic split between professional and personal and begin to make choices that equally represent who we are and who we want to be as humans and as workers – one and the same person, with priorities, values and objectives aligned.
2. Simplicity is what can sometimes save us and what we should always aim for: the „hard simple” ideas in advertising, the honest work no matter the field of activity, the simple, native initiatives that guide us towards care, achievement and a better life rather than entitlement, popularity and a richer life, the simple gestures of love, the simple corners of the world that reveal beauty and natural essence, simple food, clean relationships, pure joy. With this in mind, all our choices tend to become wiser, easier to make.
3. The only thing we can truly influence is what we do now and here. So if we can finish a project now we should, if we feel like saying „I love you”, „I’m sorry”, „I miss you”, „thank you”, „it makes me sad”, „it makes me angry”, „it makes me happy” we should do it now. If we can help now we should. If we’d like to have more time to read or travel or dance or go out with family or friends we should find it in our agenda now. Because yesterday is in the past and we cannot change it, we can only learn from it, and tomorrow is not here yet so we decide how we create it. Anger, anxiety, panic, hopelessness can be defeated by dividing every problem into bits we can handle, understand and improve today.
4. We are not alone and our relationships define us: relationships evolve, change, break and make companies, families, friendships, nations, the world. With so many amazing people around us and so many beautiful places we can spend time in, the best thing we can do is focus on those and leave all noise behind. To cherish the time we spend close to the ones we share values with. To be wise enough to listen and weigh the opinions of those different from us and strong enough to walk away from them if they hurt or delude us. To learn from eachother. To enjoy every tiny corner of the world and do our best to preserve it. Persevere in kindness and people will be there for you, when you need them.
The most simple and subtle things can hold our biggest life lessons: touch the sand, feel the breeze, watch the sea. Such resilience and beauty lies in the water always coming back to kiss the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away by the tide.