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Smart Change

It is a pop culture joke that fitness centres make the bulk of their yearly revenue in January, off of the memberships that come from people’s New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight. Packed gyms in the first few weeks of the year become ghost towns by March as people lose resolution convictions. I don’t know how literally true this stereotype is, but it wouldn’t surprise me because the sentiment sounds familiar. It was echoed constantly during the holiday season as I met with friends in the design industry and listened to their laments about work/life imbalances and their “goals” to correct them in 2019.

I think the designers I listened to that have the best chance of actually seeing resolutions come to fruition realize they can’t rely on their firms to do it for them. As any life coach will tell you, only you can understand your limits, create a schedule, develop new passions, and so on. But let’s admit, it’s hard to get excited about a to-do list, especially as the year progresses, motivation withers and obstacles pile up. This is why we need to approach balance in a balanced way. “A friend came to me and said, ‘I realize that my life is completely out of balance. It’s totally dominated by work. I work 10 hours a day; I commute two hours a day. There’s nothing in my life apart from my work. So I’ve decided to get a grip and sort it out. So I joined a gym,’” said Nigel Marsh, author of Fat, Forty and Fired, in a TEDTalk. “Now I don’t mean to mock, but being a fit 10-hour-a-day office rat isn’t more balanced; it’s more fit. Lovely though physical exercise may be, there are other parts to life: there’s the intellectual side; there’s the emotional side; there’s the spiritual side. And to be balanced, I believe we have to attend to all of those areas, not just do 50 stomach crunches.

“Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your life. Moreover, it can transform society. Because if enough people do it, we can change society’s definition of success away from the moronically simplistic notion that the person with the most money wins, to a more thoughtful and balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.”

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