There are two schools of thought when it comes to being successful at work: you can either give yourself entirely to your career, or you can strive for the elusive work-life balance. The former option is exemplified by people like Elon Musk and Jack Ma, who recently boasted about the “996” schedule that is popular in China: working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week. Who wouldn’t love that?
But when it comes to finding happiness in your career – and in your life – the other end of the spectrum isn’t much better. Feeling like you need to balance out your draining, horrible work with your uplifting, wonderful life will only leave you feeling inadequate at both. Work shouldn’t be exclusively miserable; just like your life outside of it most likely isn’t unequivocally positive. And if you ever did happen to find work-life balance, you wouldn’t feel happy, excited, or motivated to strive for more; you’d feel desperate to keep things exactly where they are. Which, I hate to tell you, is impossible.
So which is better – working the 996 schedule or striving for work-life balance? It’s all a red herring. Instead, you should be striving for love-in-work. Your challenge is about moving through life – and work – in a way that invigorates you.
It’s not about finding balance between work and life – it’s about achieving imbalance between what you love at work, and what you loathe. If you can take your loves seriously and deliberately imbalance your life to favor them, you’ll not only make a greater contribution in the world – you’ll do it in a way that invigorates and strengthens you.