One of life’s greatest challenges has to be knowing when we have enough of something — to stop ceaseless craving and accept where we are with satisfaction.
In another post (“It’s Not About Balance”), we were discussing the issues of balance and the misnomer of work/life balance. Once we accept that balance is not really the issue — or at least that a 50:50 work:life ratio is not feasible and we focus on getting our priorities right — we can make progress.
More and more people are changing the way they work from full time, one company at a time, career-ladder climbing to a more open approach of freelance, interim or contract work — what we refer to as “Portfolio Life.” All generations seem to be involved in this shift — from Baby Boomers who refuse to be “retired,” to Millennials seeking to maximize impact and flexibility.
With this approach to career-building, the additional flexibility can allow non-paid work options to come alive. In fact, I believe that there are three key factors in Portfolio Life – Pay, Purpose and Play. Pay: we all need money and financial rewards for our efforts. Purpose: we need to be fulfilled, to feel that those efforts have meaning. Play: we need leisure time to refresh and refuel.
When people stop to think about their situations, they see the ideal intersection of those three areas in Portfolio Life — largely because it offers the independence and autonomy to adjust the ratios accordingly. By developing an approach to a career that recognizes when “enough is enough” in each of those three dimensions, you can make adjustments depending upon your desires and needs at any given time.
‘Enough’ is a variable, conditioned by life context and often driven by ‘in the moment’ decisions. In the developed world, money — or the conspicuous things it buys — are often taken as the glow of success. But it is a pale glow at best. The reality is, we do need money, but we need our purpose to be fulfilled, too. Long- or short-term goals and objectives will influence the ‘enough gauge’ on the dashboard of Pay, Purpose and Play meters.
The regular world of work can prevent this, since the demands on our time and energy are often too high to accommodate. But as Portfolio Life becomes more prevalent, so too will the choices of what to do with our time and when. For example, does the highly experienced engineer want to drill for oil every day? Or perhaps apply the same competencies and experience to drilling for water, thus saving lives instead? In order to do this, you have to understand what is “enough” at each point in time, and fine-tune as you go along. Needs change, and what may be “enough” to satisfy your requirements to earn money will no longer serve you well if your focus shifts to “purpose” or “play” down the road. Whatever we decide we will do, we have made a decision to allocate time and energy. As a friend of mine puts it, every decision to do something is an irrevocable use of time.
So, how does your Pay, Purpose and Play dashboard look? Have you ever looked? Chances are you have a flashing red light somewhere in there that needs your attention. I encourage you to take a look and evaluate where you are — and then make a plan to get where you want to be.