‘All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.’ TE Lawrence
Do you ever feel like your work and life are out of balance? Have you ever felt trapped and frustrated by your job, your finances, or your personal circumstances? Do you dream of having greater work/life balance?
Life Strategy & The Work/Life Balance Myth
Work/Life Balance? It’s a myth – and anyone who worries about it is missing the bigger and more important issue of Life Strategy. That is, having a clear sense of mission & purpose, dreams, goals and plans for each of the four quadrants of life (work, family & friends, play and relationships) AND having the courage and self discipline to live your dreams and make a difference.
From my own personal and professional experience anyone who has a well developed life strategy does not worry about work/life balance because they absolutely know what their goals are at any given time and accept the fluctuating imbalances between work and life as part of achieving their bigger goals. Or, if out of balance too far have the courage and self discipline to make major changes to their work or life to rebalance towards their big picture life strategy and thus get back on track with living their dreams (albeit revised according to circumstances).
Being truly happy and satisfied with your life is an objective well worth pursuing! Living a life with clear direction and purpose as well as exciting dreams and goals is achievable for anyone willing to put in the time and effort to develop a Life Strategy.
Life Strategy Explained
Life Strategy is about living our lives “on purpose” – being clear on what really matters in the end.
Life Strategy is also about living “in balance” (not to be confused with the myth of work/lfe balance) or being active in some form across each the four quadrants of our lives: Work – the activities we do to earn income and contribute to a better world; Play – the activities we do to unwind and relax and/or to stay fit and healthy; Relationship – the energy and effort we put into our primary relationship and ensuring a loving and sustainable relationship is maintained; Family & Friends – the time and focus we give to our family responsibilities and growing our friendship networks.
Developing a Life Strategy is therefore the process of (1) understanding our preferred legacy, then mapping out our (2) dreams and (3) goals in life, then (4) action planning and (5) building support networks to achieve these goals and ‘live the dream’ across the four life quadrants of Work, Play, Relationships and Family & Friends.
The Endless Summer Life Strategy
When I think about my ideal life strategy I am drawn to the idea of Living an Endless Summer. The Endless Summer is a famous 1966 surf movie. Two surfers follow the summer season around the world, in search of great waves and new experiences and cultures. Its title comes from the idea that if you had enough time and money it would be possible to follow the summer around the world, making it endless.
The Endless Summer is the ultimate dream for many surfers. For non-surfers the Endless Summer reflects the idea of being able to live your life to pursue your dreams and goals without being overcome by barriers and limitations.
Let’s take a look at the Life Strategy of the Endless Summer Surfer who follows the waves around the world:
Your Legacy in Life – A clear understanding of your Purpose & Mission in Life.
For the Endless Summer Surfer this may be about nature, travel, and sharing new experiences with friends and family. The life quadrant of Play may be all about a life spent in the surf and ocean whilst Work may be more about being financially responsible than a particular career ambition or a career that was linked to the ocean and environment. Relationship may be about spending your life with a partner who shares similar goals in travel and nature and Family & Friends may be about a life spent both travelling with friends and family wherever possible as well as being available and supportive even when away travelling for extended lengths of time.
What is your mission in life? What Legacy do you want to leave behind you in the areas of Work, Play, Relationships and Friends & Family?
Life Dreams – Have a Vision for your Ideal Life.
For the Endless Summer Surfer, dreams may be the perfect waves in the perfect locations with the perfect group of family or friends. Play may be focused on fantastic surfing experiences, Work may be focused on flexible hours and a role that keeps them connected to the ocean. Relationship may be about sharing a love of surfing with their partner and Family & Friends may be about spending lots of time enjoying the ocean with like-minded family and friends.
What are your dreams in life across the areas of Work, Play, Relationships and Friends & Family?
Goals & Bucket Lists – Goals are the concrete and specific objectives that form part of our Dreams.
For the Endless Summer Surfer goals may be to visit specific countries and surf at specific beaches. In the area of Play there will be a list of specific locations and surfing beaches to experience with specific Friends and Family. There will also likely be specific income goals and flexible hours needed for Work and specific characteristics and attributes needed in your partner for your Relationship to work effectively.
What goals have you set for yourself to be able to live your dreams? What are the specific goals you need to identify in each of the areas of Work, Play, Relationships and Friends & Family?
Action Plans – The important detailed steps to make it happen.
For the Endless Summer Surfer there are a number of detailed steps in ‘Living the Dream’. These detailed steps include: raising money and organising flexible arrangements in your Work; learning new languages, organizing complex travel plans and health checks and physical fitness to enable them to follow the summer season for Play; having phones or internet to stay in touch with loved ones for Friends & Family, and communicating clear expectations and designing travel plans to be supportive of your Relationship.
What detailed action steps do you need to plan to achieve your life goals? What specific action plans are needed across the four life quadrants of Work, Play, Relationships and Friends & Family?
Support Networks & Setbacks – Develop your Support Networks and prepare for Setbacks.
Support Networks for the Endless Summer Surfer can include: Mentors to help stay focused on goals; Friends who can help with specific issues be that surfing skills or native customs, and Professionals who can help to manage finances, travel plans and health. Setbacks for the Endless Summer Surfer might include delays and cancellations in travel plans, poor weather and waves, ill-health, running out of money, or other unforeseen circumstances.
What support do you need to have in place to live your dreams and what setbacks do you need to plan for? What backup plans do you have in place and who are the key mentors who can support you across the different areas of Work, Play, Relationships and Friends & Family?
Life Strategy: Take Your Next Steps
The Endless Summer Life Strategy is available to us all! What is the next step you need to take? Do you need to stop and reconnect with your Legacy in life? Are you Dreams and Goals clear? Is it time to roll up your sleeves and examine the effort and detail needed to action plan and achieve your goals? Do you need to overcome some setbacks and build a more effective network of support?
Also consider how well-balanced your Life Strategy is across the four life quadrants of Work, Play, Relationships and Friends & Family. Are you only focused on Work at the expense of the other areas? Are you making sure your Relationship is a priority? Are your Family & Friends neglected because of other life pressures. Are you a workaholic and missing out on Play?
A friend of mine recently reminded me that any goal worth achieving in life usually requires tremendous effort, focus, self-discipline and perseverance so don’t give up on your Life Strategy and stay focused on ‘Living the Dream’!
Ride the Waves of Life!
The Stress Surfer
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