Why is "work" always first when we talk about balance in our lives?

Work/Life balance...What does this say about us and our values today?

I consciously default to this way of thinking at least five times per day Monday through Friday. Typically, Sundays are the focus and planning days; where I work with my wife to plan out the upcoming week. Often, we are talking about the work week, most of which is consumed by our work schedules and our son's school and extracurricular activities. We trade work schedules with each other, organize drop-off and pick-up times for our son, plan out our meals, make grocery lists, and try to keep up with the fast-paced, often-uncontrollable reality that is being a dual income family in America today. We are extremely blessed and privileged to even have the ability to do what we do each day, but often, I feel as though we are just distracting ourselves with more plans, more work, one more email, one more item on the to-do list. This kind of thinking sometimes works, when everything happens as it is planned. This does not happen most of the time.

What is missing? The other parts of our selves, longing to be connected, nurtured, and cared for by those we love. Life. It's hard to even find or connect with that "non-work" self these days. So much of "life" today is trying to manage things: job, paycheck, bills, savings, education, yard work...the list could go on and on. How do we connect with that deeper self that is always in tune with the world around us and the people in it?

Step 1: Grace, for yourself and others who are continuously tempted to stay on the "work" life road. Being conditioned to always work; towards a promotion, a higher salary, more responsibility, more things that define us can keep us "focused" on the goal-have a better life than those who came before us. This is tempting and where our economy wants us to be. Always wanting more, working harder and harder to get it. In the end, what is left? A hole that can't be filled with things.

Step 2: Search for other roads. Roads that lead us to a deeper understanding of self, others, and the world. These roads can be found in a number of ways. I have found roads by searching my interests, my values, my prejudices, and my identities. They have challenged me, ignited me, and evolved me, so much so, that they have been worth the extra mileage on my heart.

Step 3: Love what you do, as often as you do it. The old saying is true, "It isn't work if you love doing it." We are imprinted, at a very young age, with curiosity, mysticism, and wonder for everything we encounter. Re-connecting with this sense of awe in daily life can dramatically change the perspective. It is connecting with that deeper self, the part of us that knows what we have forgotten.

Step 4: Fail. Often. This has been the hardest part for me to accept, since it goes directly against the "work" life way of moving through the week. I have found that failure is needed in my life just as much as success. Failure tells me that I am not perfect. It is a gift; one which creates space to re-connect with Step 3 and find myself again.

Balance. Life. Work. Grace. Explore. Love. Fail. Repeat.