Pretty close to about 90% of my stress and anxiety has to do with work. I love my work, I really do, but it’s intense, and sometimes complicated, and sometimes I start and end my day asking myself the question: is this the entirety of what I want to do when I grow up? Which always leads to this question: when would I ever find the time to figure that out? Because here’s the thing: I love what I do. I want to do more. I want to do different. I want to do everything, kinda (so many books to write / projects to launch / causes to champion / companies to start / mountains to climb!). But I’m already tired and stressed out and what’s a girl gotta do to find some zen in all of that? Is that even impossible? Because it sounds – more work and more calm? stress-zen? – like a contradiction in terms.
It’s not, though.
Here’s how I figured that out. The other weekend, I was invited by Ford to a weekend getaway at the Terranea Resort. You know, to relax. To overturn the trope of the stressful commute by commuting to a beautiful seaside escape destination. Which sounded at once both deeply compelling and deeply unnerving. Because on the one hand: ESCAPE. On the other: SO MUCH TO DO CAN’T RELAX. And although for some people the best solution to being overwhelmed is to take a break from whatever it is that’s overwhelming them, for others relaxation can only come by diving right into the ocean of overwhelmedness and getting comfortable there. I am the latter sort of person.
So I decided to try to do both. I messaged a dear friend and collaborator and laid it all out this way: you and I both have tons of work to do. And we have tons of stuff that we’re trying to work on together. What do you say we have a creative collaboration brainstorm writing talking working getaway? (In a Ford.)
She didn’t take long to reply. HELL YES.
And so we did. And it was awesome.
It was about an hour’s drive from Beverly Hills to the Terranea, and during that drive (yes, in the aforementioned Ford, which already had the destination programmed into it so we just drove confidently along, happy and secure in our navigation) we solved about 60% of the world’s problems and some of our own. And then over dinner that night, and during our drive to Hermosa Beach the next day, and then throughout the afternoon and evening, and throughout the whole weekend through the drive home, we sought relaxation through what was basically a 48 hour session of brainstorming and creative work. And it worked. It worked really well.
And it validates something that many of us understand pretty well: for some people, there’s no such thing as work-life balance. I’m lucky to have the kind of work life that consumes me, because it’s a passion for it that makes it so all-consuming. But the all-consumingness of it can be really hard, and really tiring, and really frustrating because you can’t just walk away from it. So it’s a wonderful, wonderful relief to just lean into it, and to take it with you to some place beautiful, with someone who inspires you, and to let yourself find the balance in the work itself. And find the work in the balance. Or something like that.
No, exactly like that. Find the balance in the work. Find the work in the balance.
Do it with someone, or a few people, who inspire you and who you inspire (because you do inspire people.) Do it in a place where the surroundings inspire you. It doesn’t have to be a fancy resort, although fancy resorts are nice. It does lend itself nicely to a nice long drive, because on nice long drives you settle into that reflective state that comes when you’re just focused on the road in front of you and whatever ideas pop into your head. So, yes, road trips and shared commutes work. But it also lends itself to hikes and walks and coffee dates and work sessions wherever it feels like the work is kind of an escape in itself.
Because it can be. It’s really kind of awesome when it is.
(Ford made it possible for me to have this escape-not-escape-work-balance-retreat, and for that I’m grateful. Check out their #HappyCommute page – it has very interesting research on how stressed we all are and what things like work and commutes have to do with that, and what they don’t have to do with that. And if you’re ever in Southern California and want to really feel the splendor of the sea, do visit Terranea, which is one of my new happy places.)