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Why work/life imbalance comes from scarcity

By Garrett

Mar 9, 2017

If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know that I’ve struggled with work/life balance.. I’m aware I’m not alone in this and that it’s something pretty much all entrepreneurs struggle with, but that hasn’t made being a constant passenger on the Struggle Bus any easier.

In the past, I thought my biggest problem had to do with time – I always found myself working early in the morning/late at night and would pass up on doing things because there was “always work to be done.”

In that regard I’ve improved – I’m doing more fun shizz on the weekends, traveling more, proactively searching out shenanigans. Yet I’ve realized I’m facing a more insidious problem than just time imbalance – I have a huge imbalance in how much brain space, focus, and attention I give to work compared to everything else.

Giving time to things outside of work is great, but if I don’t allow myself to be present during those times (i.e. I’m thinking about work) then is that really quality time? That’s not a rhetorical question – the answer is no. What is the point of getting out and doing partaking in said shenanigans if my mind is always somewhere else? And it’s not just that I think of work when I’m in the act of play – it’s also that the podcasts I listen to and the books I read are all business/productivity/marketing related.

The irony in this imbalance is that people start businesses so they can ultimately leverage them to support the life they want. I started Be Awesome Not Broke with the hope that it would allow me to live my purpose, which is to have incredible experiences with the people that I love and help/teach others how to do the same. A business is supposed to be the vehicle for an awesome life, not Gandalf standing in the middle of you and that life saying “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

So why is it not that way? Why do I feel work is keeping me from, rather than moving me toward, the life I want?

To be honest – and we’re all about honesty time here – I think it comes down to having a scarcity mindset. Deep down I have this fear that if I don’t work my ass off all the time and give all of my attention to the business that it won’t ultimately be successful.

Is it a rational fear? As an entrepreneur, I would say it is. But is it serving me? Absolutely not. What’s funny is if you go back and read that post on work/life balance from a year ago, I literally told myself how to deal with scarcity. Back on February 29th, 2016 I wrote “Having fun doesn’t detract from your business – it grows it.” Really…I wrote that? Sorry guys – I must have blacked out. For a year.

I bring this up (again) because this scarcity mindset is what keeps us from focusing not only on what will make us happy but what will ultimately make us successful. And I use the word successful to include financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. I’ve realized that focusing so much on my business has cost me the head space and ability to be present to others, as well as limited my empathy and stopped me from being truly proactive in my relationships. That ain’t right. Again, my business will end up being successful because of my relationships, empathy, vulnerability and compassion, not in spite of it.

This scarcity mindset doesn’t apply to just entrepreneurs – it’s for anyone who has doubts/fears about their work/money. If you’re in a similar mindset, here is a question I’m currently asking myself that you might find helpful: “If I was on my deathbed and looked back at how I’m living right now, would I have any regrets? Would I be happy with how I spent my time?” Yeah, it’s deep. but it’s giving me the kick in the pants I need right now to live more in alignment with my values.

I’m saying this as much for you as for myself: work and money are only tools to help you get what you want out of life. They should never be the main focus or goal. 1+1 doesn’t always equal 2. We can worry less about work and money and find ourselves ultimately having more of both. At least that’s what a wise me once told me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories, experiences or insights if you’re willing to share. Obviously, this topic (and I) are a work in progress, so I’m welcoming of any conversation around it. My time and headspace will be yours 🙂

Love,
Somegare over the rainbow

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6 Comments

  1. Liz

    I have the scarcity mindset and I can’t let it go. If I ever stop progressing (taking more college classes, blogging courses, paying down debt), I feel that my life is over. I’m stuck. I can’t get out of this mindset that I should go have fun – maybe use some savings to actually travel and have fun.

    And when I do have fun, I am always thinking about the next thing to blog about/work on/make more money. I don’t know what to do.

    I tend to laugh it off and say it’s because I’m introverted and hate leaving my house, but seriously… we gotta get a handle on it.

    Reply
    • Garrett

      I feel like you’re my long lost sister 🙂 Well, I would say that always wanting to keep progressing is not inherently a bad thing, right? I think it’s preferable to the alternative where people don’t keep learning and just stay static. Keeping a positive perspective there. But you’re right – if you are always thinking about work when you’re out having fun then that’s a problem.

      Tim Ferriss’ most recent podcast was a really interesting one, as he had the psychologist on who lead the infamous Stanford prison experiment. At the end of the podcast, the psychologist (Dr. Philip Zimbardo) talked about some work he’s doing that looks into people’s perspectives on time: in the past, present and future. He said that people who have a negative/worried view of the future often aren’t satisfied because they’re always concerned whether they are doing enough, and often never think they are. I haven’t read his book on it so don’t have an answer, but I think there’s something there about shifting our (and I’ll say our because I feel this way too) worried view of the future to a more positive one.

      I also think mindfulness helps here, as it helps people accept the present and believe that they have and are “enough”. If we truly believe we have enough in the now, then there isn’t that need to constantly fret about the future. At least that’s how I’m told it works 🙂

      Reply
  2. Heidi Thompson

    I’m so happy to know I’m not alone in feeling a compulsion to work and grow.

    Reply
    • Garrett

      We can often feel so alone in what we’re struggling with, but with 7 billion people in the world there are good odds we’re not the only ones going through it. That said, it’s always nice to hear someone else’s experience to be able to connect with, and I’m glad mine resonated with you!

      Now I am curious though, how has that compulsion manifested itself in how you’re working and growing?

      Reply
  3. SJ Martin

    So glad that I found this blog! I am trying to heal both my broken finances and my broken view of money.

    Until about a year ago, I was a full time farmer. For the past 18 years. During those 18 years, I worked in a field that I was passionate about, but I could not afford to do anything that was not related to reinvesting the profit that I made right back into the farm-no day off, no vacation, every emergency with car/house/livestock/myself was a major life crisis. No benefits. No medical care. You get the picture.

    So last year, I sold everything, livestock and equipment, but my working farm dogs, and went to work for a manufacturing company. Do I love my job-nope. But now I can go to my 10 hour a day job and come home and not think about working more and more in order to hustle to make a living. I have really good benefits and I have weekends and Holidays off, something that I had NEVER had in 43 years of work.

    I could finally afford to go out to dinner with friends. At one such dinner, a friend of mine said, “I am glad that you came with me. You’ve been depriving yourself for so long.” Yikes!
    I had never looked at my life like that before but that was exactly what it was. I quit a good job and started farming because it was something that I had always wanted to do. Am I glad that I did it? Yes. Should I have stuck it out for as long as I did-an emphatic NO!

    I am a workaholic in all aspects of my life-work and play- but now I am learning to give myself permission to just work because its a steady paycheck and to set aside some of those funds to spend ON my passions. Elizabeth Warren wrote that money gives us freedom and opportunity. Yes. Yes, indeed.

    Reply
  4. Howser

    Hear is though for the new year and my new year mantle “what if everything is going to be great”. By asking yourself the question it allows your Brian to think positively and focus less on control. You obviously do the work in the background but the question helps you keep doing the work in the right way as it is only positive steps that your Brian focuses on. So this could be Garreat! For you.
    On your business “ what if everything is going to be great – allows you to be open to new people and to keep being proactive. Gets rid of the trying and that’s what I got from your last two blog posts – too much trying in sport or anything makes us tense up and perform at a lower level. Got to remain loose and natural. Great content , keep up the great work.

    Reply

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