Ah, the sweet sound of a balanced life—a concept as elusive as the idea of retirement, and more difficult to obtain than a clear email inbox. Show me someone who doesn’t desire a successful career, healthy personal relationships, consistent travel, and great health so I can show you a liar.
As a global society, the information age has exposed us to so many possibilities that we actually think we can have it all. New technology has added fuel to that fire by synching all facets of life. We’ve become attached to the idea of work-life balance when that ship sailed a long time ago. Everything is so interconnected that constant availability and accessibility have turned into standard practice. On top of that, comparing our lives to others has become a regular habit, prohibiting us from monitoring and mastering our own respective pace of progress.
We’re at the point now where we should be pursuing life fluidity instead of work-life balance—accepting that we don’t have direct control of advancement, and that instead we must invest energy into being intentional about the personal and professional opportunities we have right in front of us. This all while setting boundaries to facilitate self awareness, ultimately mastering our individual rhythms of growth.
Be Intentional, Not Comparable.
Instagram thrusted society into a constant state of unhealthy comparison. According to Hootsuite, of the $7.6 billion people on the planet, 1 billion of us use Instagram. About 60 percent of users are under 30, and 72 percent are teens. During our most formative years, we’ve been exposed to endless highlight reels. The algorithm prioritizes aspirational images, leaving users susceptible to skewed self expectations.
We believe in reaching career milestones by certain ages, completely ignoring the fact that uncontrollable variables impact the rate at which we succeed. On top of that, everyone is on an independent natural clock, developing instincts and understanding at different points. Simply put, we’re comparing personal progress to what we see on the feed.
Opportunity can’t possibly knock on everyone’s door simultaneously. Spend less energy comparing, and more on identifying current chances to grow personally and professionally. In a time when the world is saying you’re either Mark Zuckerberg, an influencer or a failure, have faith. Life doesn’t end at 30 years old, and you’ve got time to evolve into that CEO you see in the mirror. Employment isn’t the enemy; it’s a practice field. There’s beauty in learning, trying, failing, and winning on someone else’s dime. Also worth noting: you don’t have to be the boss to be an influential person in your industry. Hell, you don’t even have to be influential to be successful.
Establishing life fluidity requires recognizing that personal and professional progress don’t run on a set schedule, nor do they mirror what you see on social timelines. Likes, retweets, and those other vague metrics of digital love create an insatiable need for celebration of milestones. If we’re not acknowledged, we under-value our own growth and achievement. Leading to a misunderstanding of personal timing, ultimately snowballing into flawed goal setting. Transition from competing against yourself and others, into to a state of intentionality behind the actions necessary to reach your goals. Once you develop that intentionality, be diligent about setting boundaries so exterior influences don’t distract you.
According to Market Watch, American adults in 2018 spent an average of 11 hours per day on their phones, an increase of 9.5 hours from four years prior. Basically, 50 percent of our daily lives involves consuming media filled with exterior thoughts, opinions, and values. It’s easy to overlook how much that outside noise can influence the way we feel, think, and act. That’s a dangerous game to play, and you owe it to yourself to set the proper boundaries. Take control by limiting your exposure to everything else but your inner voice, because that’s where your clarity lives. Start strategically unplugging from the madness.
Delete those social media apps before you go to sleep so you can’t wake up and jump straight into a sea of extrinsic information. Spend time with yourself, whether that comes in the form of meditation or a solo trip to the movies. Exercises like these provide you the space to identify your core values, moral code, and guiding principles that provide clear direction to your life and career—all birthed from how you actually feel, instead of how you’ve been influenced to feel. Your existence is a house under continuous construction. Don’t disrespect your own home by letting anyone or anything through the front door that doesn’t belong there.
Establish a Rhythm.
Just like mother nature, you’ve got seasons, too. They’re marked by emotions and behavioral patterns resulting from your changing position in life. There will be seasons of volatility and confusion in times of growth. Just like there will be seasons of calm and confidence as you reach milestones.
Your feelings and actions aren’t without merit; they’re reflections of your life’s ebb and flow. Why fight against the current? The minute you tap into your rhythm of change, you will become a ruler of your own progress. Everyone’s got a unique life journey, which makes mastering the art of fluidity a distinct process for each of us. Still, some habits are one size fits all. Be intentional, set boundaries, establish your rhythm. Be like water.