Saturday, 9 June 2012

balance for life

'Work to live, don't live to work.' I think we can all agree on this premise. Whether your job is your absolute passion or it's just how you pay the rent, the same rule ought to apply in theory. If you enjoy your work, you're in a fortunate position indeed - but it's still work. A lack of room for any leisure time will leave you feeling burned out, resentful and unbalanced for sure. We are all multi-faceted beings. We have our fingers in a great many different pies. The human brain appreciates applying itself to different pursuits - a one track mind leads to monotony and monotony is dull. If you're pouring untold energy into your work at the moment, either because you're striving for the next rung on the ladder or because you have major concerns about your career and find that it's eating into your down time, Tarot offers some excellent guidance for addressing your work-life balance and getting it back on track. Because work-life balance matters. Overly factoring work into your mental and physical schedule in a way that's detrimental to other areas leads to depression and anxiety. There's work and then there's everything else. It's ok to take pride in your work and to be focused on targets or success, but when everything else suffers as a result of that, it's become a serious issue. Time is something you cannot get back. Regret is a stain that isn't easily removed.

Know your limits. Temperance holds messages of balance, moderation and recognition of personal barriers. The Yin and Yang symbol applies here. Mixing two halves from one source in order to create a harmonious whole is part of the angel's role in this card and this is often done through concerted effort. Likewise, mixing work and life outside work can create a great mix which works for you, but you'll need to dedicate time to achieving this through the conscious decisions you make. Temperance offers perspective as a key tool. Is the work-related issue you're struggling with really as imperative as you think? Is it really going to help anything long-term to lose two nights of sleep over it? Is it going to matter tomorrow, next month or next year? When we lose sight of our perspective we are pushing our anxiety levels into overdrive. Knowing your limits is not about accepting failure, it's merely a way of acknowledging that we can only do our best and that expecting ourselves to be super-human is pretty much always going to end badly.

Tying in nicely with knowing your limits is the importance of actioning and verbalising them. For this, you will need the gutsy assertiveness of characters like The Emperor and Queen of Swords. Don't mince your words. Say what you mean, communicating to others what you will do and what is beyond your reach. No aggression is necessary for this practice, just straight talking and an awareness of your right to express your concerns and plans. Once you've developed an understanding of what you're prepared to give to your place of work and what is too much to ask for, you will find yourself standing up a little straighter as you recognise your ability to work towards your goals without exhausting yourself. Remember, you are an individual. What someone else is prepared to do for work is not necessarily what you are prepared to do. You are on your own path and you are forging it according to your principles, your timescale and your priorities so don't feel that you need to compete with someone else in order to feel you're a worthy employee. Be in touch with your identity in the workplace, as difficult as that can be sometimes. The Emperor knows his mind. He celebrates and utilises his strengths but he also stands up for himself and knows when enough is enough. The Queen of Swords exercises mastery over her situation. Nothing gets on top of her because she is fully aware of the consequences of allowing work to control her thoughts and emotions.

When your work-life balance is proving problematic, it could be time to spend some quality time with yourself in order to get in touch with what you like, what your passions are, who you are beneath the work persona. Sometimes work takes over because there's a void outside of it - work seems to be the only thing to which an individual is dedicated, while the rest of life seems to be aimless and unsure. If this is you, perhaps a new project is in order. Pursuits outside the workplace are not a threat to your career, in fact they generate passion which can be used to fuel and enjoy your work as well as help you to feel that you exist outside of its walls. Let the Page of Wands encourage you to consider new pathways in your life outside work. If your sense of achievement is cultivated only in the workplace, you're missing out on many other avenues of personal growth and enjoyment. Tap into the message of The Sun - seek joy, stay optimistic, go after the good feelings. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Plenty of people use work to distract themselves from emotional distress. After experiencing a tumultuous period or a loss of any kind, throwing yourself into work can provide focus at a time when everything feels unstable and up in the air. There's nothing wrong with being the kind of person who uses work to cope with pain but there is a limit to this technique and when the limit is breached you will find yourself experiencing burnout. The Eight of Cups encourages emotional healing. Absorb its important message of self-love and give yourself time to let go of what's affecting you. Becoming a workaholic in order to avoid the process of acceptance is the spiritual equivalent of putting your head into the sand and, as a long term strategy, this isn't advisable.

The most important ingredient for a good work-life balance is the knowledge of priorities. The Three of Cups is a great reminder of what's really important. If your work commitments render you unable to spend quality time with the people you truly love, make a change.