Saturday, September 17, 2011

Type A Version of Life Balance

What a week! This week at work was like skiing a black diamond mogul run: hard, fast, having to make crucial decisions in rapid sequence with the likelihood of poor choices having unpleasant consequences, and simultaneously needing to maximize my physical, mental and emotional performance. And I loved it.

I thrive on challenge, and languish during times of boring routine. I become downright morose when thwarted in my plans and projects, easily sinking into a state of discouragement and lack of self-confidence. Facing challenges gives me a sense of agency, and so I like to manufacture challenges for myself. This benefits my employers because they get lots of creative, effective work from me.

When people write about trying to achieve a balanced life, they usually recommend pulling back from a frenetic pace at work, and making more time for personal, social, and recreational pursuits. And I deeply value those dimensions too (although I have to admit that I sometimes tend to engage in the personal components of my life with much the same intensity as I do in my work life, like skiing moguls).

For me, I think balance is not simply about working fewer hours or taking a more laid-back approach while working. I think, instead, it's more about finding a rhythm. I fling myself into projects, work my guts out, revel in the intensity of complete immersion, and then bring that project or period of work to a temporary lull or rest time. Using the skiing analogy, this would be the time at the bottom of the hill when I standing sweating in the lift line chatting with others and then ride the chairlift back up, admiring the view.

Type A? Yes, definitely. But I like it that way.

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