Work Life Balance: The Gift Of Too Much To Do

On any given day I generally have more than enough to do. Sometimes I have so much to do that I hardly know where to begin. Yet the fact is that most weeks I work less than 40 to 50  hours.

People are always asking me how I get everything done. How do I find the time to read so much? How can I travel and attend trainings while keeping up with my practice? How do I manage to write my blog, emails, and keep up with social media? How do I maintain work life balance that has become the Holy Grail of our times? What’s my secret?

There are many answers, but one in particular arose in the midst of one of my morning meditation. As usual, my mind was prancing around like a young puppy, willing to heel for only a moment or two before racing off to explore some enticing scent in the bushes. Also as usual, one of these enticing scents was my “To Do” list.

As I gave a gentle tug on my mental leash, I experienced a sudden shift in perception. It was as if I had slipped through the looking glass to discover that I was living in a world of abundant possibility as opposed to one of temporal scarcity.

I no longer had the problem of not enough time and balancing my life with my work; I had the gift of more than enough to do.

Why is this a gift? Consider this. When you are invited to a smorgasbord laden with more delicacies than you can possibly sample, you choose from among the offerings the ones that you want most. What you choose will depend on your needs, desires, and values. Do you want to try something new? Do you want to experiment with a new combination of familiar pleasures? Do you have allergies to consider? Is there a favorite food you want to make sure to taste again?

Sure, you could approach the buffet with resentment, frustrated that the thoughtless hosts had plotted to overwhelm you. But why on earth would you adopt that point of view? What would you gain?

As I sat with this notion of having more than enough to do, I knew intuitively that I did not have to do everything on my list any more than I would have to eat everything at a buffet. I also knew that accepting that I could not do it all was part of the pleasure of acknowledging the wealth of opportunity before me.

I’ve spent several days now musing about what actions and choices arise from “behind the looking glass.” Here are some of the practical ways this shift shows up:

— When I notice that I have more than enough, it is natural to look for how I can share it, giving a whole new twist to the notion of delegating work. Who would enjoy doing this work? Who would enjoy learning how to do this? With whom would I like to try this?

— When I notice that I have more than enough, it is natural to wonder what I want most and why. This invigorates the process of setting priorities. What would be the most fun? What would be the most nourishing? What can keep for another day of my life? What can I enjoy from a distance?

— When I notice that I have more than enough, it is natural to act from gratitude and to express gratitude through good stewardship. For the sake of what shall I make this choice? What makes the most sense or is most necessary in light of current life conditions? What selections support healthy ambition? How can I preserve or conserve opportunities for another person or another day? If I cannot use an opportunity, how can I be complete with it?

— When I notice that I have more than enough, I can trust the ebb and flow of natural abundance. I regard unused possibilities of balancing my life with my work as compost for the future. I appreciate that times of apparent emptiness are the seedbed for times of opportunity. I know that when seedlings grow too thickly, it is time to thin the garden, not to complain about the pressure of competing priorities.

I encourage you to notice your own relationship to time and the things you have to do. Check your work life balance and emotional weather report as it relates to planning either for the day or for a specific project over a period of days. Then notice the physical sensations that correspond to this weather report. How does this change when you play with the notion that rather than too little time you more than enough to do, an abundance of opportunity?

Once you have felt your way into this different frame of mind, see what new possibilities show up. What actions are possible (and how are they qualitatively different) from this place?

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