School’s out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean my kids still aren’t still learning a ton (between swim team, Ninja training, nature camps, and crafts – these kids’ summers are packed!). Learning doesn’t stop when the bell rings. Too often for adults, though it does. Many adults graduate from high school or college and never take another class or read another book. For the rest of their life! That’s no way to live.
Society has taught us to live this very linear (or as I like to call it, ladder) life. We’re born, we go to school for over a decade, then many will continue and go to college or grad school, then you get a dog, get married, land your dream job, buy a house, have a kid or two, refinance your home, get a promotion, remodel your kitchen, buy a bigger house, retire, travel the world for the next two years, and then come home and help raise the grand-kids. We spend the first 20 or so years of our life in this neat little box of learning. We spend the next 40 years in a working box, and then if we’re lucky, we get 20-30 years left to unwrap the box of playing. And for the men out there, we’re on the shorter side of that!
Several years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I realized that the ladder life was not for me. I didn’t want to work for the next 40 years and never play. And I didn’t want all of my learning to be behind me. I was not looking for the holy grail of work-life balance. I was looking for work-life integration, work-life harmony. I wanted to learn, work, and play every day! You can too.
Here’s what that looks like in practice:
- Daily exercise (learning, working, and playing depending on how new or challenging the workout is!)
- Reading (usually learning by listening to Audible during a workout or commute to the office)
- Working (This is both work, play, and learning for me. Business is my sport. I’m always learning how to be a better leader. I’ve created a “job” for myself where I can insert myself into the business when and where I want. This works for any career. You won’t love everything you do all the time, but if you can find the joy in why you’re doing it, then your work will also become your play!)
- Attending swim meets for kids (I learn how to be a better father, listener and practice my patience during kids events.)
- Bike rides with the family (Full-on play!)
- Making dinner (This can be work and learning too. If I’m making a new meal or really focusing on my nutrition and macros, then I’m learning and working!)
Those are just a few examples for you. The goal, my goal, is to make sure I incorporate learning, working, and playing into my day, every day. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours of work, nor does it need to be hours and hours of play or learning. Some days will be mostly learning, with a little play and work thrown in, and some days will be all work, but I am purposeful on making sure I get just 20 minutes of play and learning in there too.
You don’t have to wait until you retire to truly live. Let’s be honest, it’s probably going to be more fun to play while you’re 37, than 73!
What are your thoughts on work-life integration? How do you incorporate learning, working, and playing into your day, every day?
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