Creating an Authentic Work/Life Flow

Image by Heather Ford

Image by Heather Ford

I posted few days ago on the ‘gram that this year has required a deep re-evaluation of my work/life flow. I’ve been self employed for just over two years now, I am working more consistent hours outside of the home, and there have been some other personal events over the last few months that invited me to pause and take a good hard look at where my energy has been going.

I have spent an incredible amount of time in my journal and observing my day-to-day functions and realized I was missing a really important key to finding a work life flow that actually felt good.

My authentic needs.

What are authentic needs? To me, these are what support you who you are as a unique individual. Authentic needs vary by person because we are each here to express and experience a unique life. But these needs support who we are at our core- and often, they are over-ridden in our school years and early career as we are taught to conform to the needs of the greater institutions (whether school or a business, or even our families)

Does this resonate?

Over my years as an entrepreneur these authentic needs, or the lack of alignment with them, has become more apparent. I would find myself asking questions like:

  • what am I not doing right?

  • what are others doing?

  • where am I not trying hard enough?

Which translate to: not feeling worthy, comparison, and hustle mindset.

I had been asking myself the wrong questions about life and my work. And it was leeching my energy faster than I could replenish it. My actions were hustling even though my intentions were to slow down and focus on life more than work (while still having needs met, of course). And I realized I wasn’t playing to my nature or my strengths- again, leading to more energy leaking than generating.

The Doshas and Work Ethic

To look at work/life flow from an Ayurvedic perspective, each one of the dosha’s has its own unique work-ethic built in to it. So your unique mind/body type, or constitution, can be a great starting point for understanding what fuels you and what burns you out. This was the first point of reference I visited when I started to really unpack what wasn’t working for me in the current ‘balance’ I had created.

  • Vata (air + ether) types need flexibility & variety, room for creativity, work in big bursts of energy and then need to rest, enjoy big picture dreaming and not so detail oriented. They love to be more of a ‘free-agent’ in the workforce.

  • Pitta (fire + water) types enjoy structure, organizing, and creating efficient structures. They can see the big picture and the the steps to get there. They will throw everything they have into a project until its done and then need time to bounce back. They are leaders and enjoy being in charge of projects and initiatives.

  • Kapha (earth + water) types are methodical and structured. They enjoy going at a slower pace, paying attention to detail, adding in special touches and flourishes, and will stick to a project until it is complete. They are reliable and trustworthy within the workplace and make excellent teammates (they often do not wish for the limelight or leadership)

So maybe at this point you can see some of yourself in these descriptions? I am a Pitta-Kapha and realized that so much of my work structure was more Vata in nature. I was lacking stability and structure that made for more predictability: things that are super important to me but I was denying myself as I did what I thought I ‘should’ be doing.

So that is where I started. Just observing myself and my actions. I was feeling worn out, uninspired, and a bit out of balance where I thought I should feel in balance. These feelings were guideposts and I spent time journaling about them extensively before boiling it down to three key points …

  1. Making decisions based on ‘Shoulds’. I had been feeling consistently depleted and on the brink of major burn out without the common instigators of a modern burn out. I wasn’t working crazy hours, taking on huge projects, or neglecting self care. I was simply channeling my energy to the wrong places based on what I thought was right or acceptable. Practicing saying ‘No’, or even, a ‘can I think about this’ and giving myself space to think before acting is key.

  2. Energy Leaks. Energy leaks can be the things we do or the way we do them. For example, I love teaching classes but realized teaching a weekly or monthly class zapped my energy because I am not a constant creator. I like to to dive deep into teachings and simmer there for awhile. I also realized I was stacking my days off with too many coffee dates, appointments, and meetings- even though these were things I wanted to do, I needed to change how I was scheduling. As an introvert I need space to breath.

  3. Allowing for Less as More. This is what feels good for right now. This could change. But for right now I need less on my plate so I can channel more into it. With plenty of downtime in-between to regenerate and assimilate. This means less classes going at once, less trainings, less coffee dates and meet ups to make more room for writing and studying, and downtime. Again, I just know this is where I am right now.

This is still a work in progress for me and I know there is still a ways to go.

It is taking a lot of awareness to see my learned behaviors and patterns that I repeat and its also taking a lot of faith that I can make up whatever work flow feels good for me and works for my highest good. There is a lot of fear in our humanness that if we stray from the status quo we are putting ourselves at risk (that risk can be whatever your programming finds fearful). Even with the small steps I have taken thus far I am feeling a shift in energy and in more alignment with my work time and play time.

And as I continue to course correct I give myself permission to saying ‘no’, taking more time to rest, and only do the things that feel really damn good.

I truly believe feeling good is the best guide we can have on this journey to finding our unique ways of showing up in service; and that is what I am focusing on as I learn for myself what that looks like.

Other tools that have helped me through this period of exploration:

Journal Prompts ( I would revisit these several times as I kept unpeeling layers of my learned behaviors)

  1. Where in my life do I feel consistent and energized?

  2. What tasks feel like energy leaks? These are the things that prevent you from doing the answer to question #1

  3. What pace and qualities of life actually feel good? Fast & Changing? Slow & Consistent? Steady but Variable?

  4. What ‘shoulds’ are taking up too much of your time, mindspace, and energy? How can those be resolved?

Some other helpful guides along my way have been Human Design, Astrology, and Enneagram. All which are too in-depth to dive into here but if one strikes your interest I encourage you to explore.