I’ve been actively wrestling with the tension between the intersections of life, vocation, and purpose for the past 15 years. The traditional ideas of where you draw strong lines between work, life, and your personal pursuits in order to find “balance” have never really made a lot of sense to me, especially in the past decade. It became expected that work push into personal life when we all started getting laptops and cell phones. Life presses into work when you’ve got kids, an old house, or a family member’s funeral. And, no one should stay working a job that doesn’t contribute to your mental and spiritual well being. We can’t all have “idilic” jobs, but we certainly can begin to find environments where work, life, and personal pursuits can be better integrated.
When I met Sam 18 months or so ago, I saw another young professional working in a mission-based organization that was organically connecting all those dots. She was working a job she loved and brought professional fulfillment. She was integrating her husband, Lee, and her social network into her job through events and functions. And, because she has a more outgoing and inclusive spirit, was inviting others on the fringe of her social network into her social life. I noticed this last summer when Sam, Lee, and their circle of friends would make plans to go to a local park on a Saturday evening to play soccer, hangout, picnic together, and put it out via their social media that anyone is welcome to join them. Sam talks about that being just an organic part of their lives rather than a deeply intentional act, but that it is the spirit that has come from regular intentional acts over time.
When Sam and I discussed this before sitting down for this podcast, the conversation quickly led to the role of personal development. That in order to become the people that we want to be or create the environments that we want to be a part of, that it is vital to choose learnings, experiences, and accountability to become better versions of ourselves. If we want to be better employees, friends, athletes, neighbors, or grow in our versions of spirituality, then we have to choose it. Some times those are hard things or we have to make it harder to truly grow from them, but they’re always worth the effort. Sam is a really fast runner and even as an adult uses goal setting in her running to grow her character that has impact in other areas of life. Personal development is so important.
I’m really encouraged by Sam, her husband Lee, and several others that I know are part of Sam’s social networks that are choosing lifestyles and jobs that require them to integrate life, purpose, and vocation rather than attempting to keep them separate. I’ve been learning that true fulfillment and happiness are coming from this integration both personally and within my family and it seems to be the best way to live.
Sam would attest that boundaries are still required and while integration leads to health in some ways, it can also push in where we need to say no. The “right way” is a personal decision that comes from being more mindful and present where you’re at, wherever that may be, and from a position of investing in your personal development. You can never go wrong from working on yourself. It’s the only thing you can control in life.