Why Focusing On Both Work And Personal Goals Is Truly Impossible
I've always written, encouraged and spoken about how Millennials will not become slaves to our professions, but instead, will have to find ways to balance our professional passions with personal life passions.
Recently, however, I've become doubtful about how possible that work/life balance is — at least, if your intentions are to excel at one or the other.
Something happened to me this week; something that altered the foundation of one of my beliefs.
Almost exclusively, my ambitions are what drive me; my vision has always been to touch the world with my words, to inspire masses through stories that transcend generations, cultures or continents.
I've lived each day for the last five years narrowly chasing this dream, only poking my head above water momentarily to catch my breath before diving straight back into my pursuit of what I know to be my life's purpose.
Then She Walks Away
I have tried to convince myself many times throughout my pursuit that I can simultaneously enjoy other aspects of my life; I can still spend a fair amount of time with my friends or form close intimate relationships with women, without compromising my devotion to writing.
However, this week, when another woman walked out of my life after being unable to concede to the reality of not being my primary emotional attachment, it forced me to reflect on my belief that I could simultaneously dedicate myself to my passion without impacting my personal relationships.
The day after she left, I sat down and thought about all of the women who couldn't understand why taking part in a weekly writers' group was more important than happy hour. I thought about all of the platonic friendships that have disintegrated because I chose to dedicate the majority of my time to my ambitions.
I've gone months without speaking to close friends who were an intricate part of my life for my whole life. I've missed birthday parties and other important milestones because my focus grew narrower with each passing day.
Coming To Terms With The Myth
All of this has led me to realize that the concept of balance is a myth, at least as it relates to my own experiences. I don't see how it's possible to pursue your passions in full force while trying to build and maintain strong personal relationships.
Both commitments demand time and attention to be successful. Both need to be nurtured and monitored consistently to grow and develop into something spectacular. Splitting attention means accepting that the results of one of these endeavors will be average. Being average is my greatest fear.
There is, however, one major difference in approaching these two passions: In the pursuit of my ambitions, I have made and will continue to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning in every profession; they are encouraged and accepted as being necessary in order to progress.
In person-to-person relationships, mistakes are looked upon almost completely from the opposite perspective. Yes, they are forgiven, and good friends will stick by you through more than they probably should, but there is a hard limit to the amount of times you can anger, disappoint, infuriate or embarrass someone about whom you care and who cares about you.
No delete button or re-branding can salvage a fractured relationship. Once a person has reached a breaking point, the chances of redemption will have all but vanished.
So, here I am, alone in thought and presence, left to pursue a dream that continues to dominate my existence. It's strange because I think of enjoying that success when it finally does come to fruition and sharing those accomplishments with the people I love.
As the years pass, however, I'm forced to wonder whether I'll have anyone left with whom to share my fulfillment, or if I have forever sacrificed my personal bonds to realize these dreams.
Photo Courtesy: HBO/Entourage