The Daily Walk That Transformed My Perspective On Work-Life Balance

My gym membership recently ran out.

The timing could not have been worse. Our company is in the final stages of closing a financing round, we’re growing like crazy, shipping product updates, and preparing to move. Moving presented me with a unique problem: do I renew my gym membership at sky high rates for one month, or do I take the month off and focus on work and the move.

I started weight lifting seriously in my freshman year of high school. I was the chubby kid in elementary and middle school and dealt with bullying growing up because of my weight, something I decided to change as I entered freshman year. Weight lifting has always been a challenging, rewarding, and demanding activity that helps keep me focused, healthy, and fit.

Once a year I try to take a few weeks off from training to give my body a rest. I typically supplement lifting with other light activities to burn energy and stay active throughout the time off.

This year I decided to walk around my neighborhood for an hour at the same time everyday. As I started my walks I would often reflect on the events of the day, think of creative ways to solve problems, or simply admire the beauty of the fall landscape.

Autumn is one of my favorite things about Northeastern Pennsylvania. Once a year God paints a picture along every road and in every front yard as far as the eye can see. Flowers bloom one last time, the leaves begin to change, crops are harvested, and a cool breeze reminds you that winter is on the way. Taking that hour of thinking time everyday has noticeably transformed my own understanding of work-life balance, my overall productivity, and my appreciation for life itself.

I sometimes wonder how many people in the world have never experienced a fall in Pennsylvania. How blessed I am to see this unimaginable beauty in pure form. I’ve snapped dozens of photos on these daily walks, attempting to capture a mere glimmer of what it is like to experience the beauty in person.

Photography has always been one of my passions. It started at a young age and was passed on as a hobby from my dad. At one point in high school I even worked at a professional studio on the weekends. It’s been a long time since I took the time to shoot for fun, so having an hour to do this during my walks was refreshing.

In our interconnected world we tend to take things for granted. We rarely set aside a designated time where we aren’t “plugged in” to the Internet at every waking moment of the day. Our society’s line between work and personal life has rapidly faded into a grey uneven combination of the two.

In an “always on” globally connected economy, work becomes life and life becomes work.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

My walks have taught me the importance of taking time to think, reflect, and simply exist. When you think about it, work-life balance is just a fancy way of asking someone what they care about the most in their lives. We are defined as individuals by the people (or things) we spend the most time and energy on. For some people that time is spent on work. For some it’s on family. For others it’s spent on both, or something different entirely.

There is no universal formula for the perfect work-life balance. It’s up to each individual to know themselves enough to understand what matters in their own lives, and most importantly how they will choose to spend their time.

My time on these walks has led me to become more introspective, creative, and productive. I’ve realized that there is no buzzword-blog-post-life-hack-self-help-book-101 for perfecting work-life balance. It’s a continual effort that is always evolving, just as we are constantly evolving as people. I as an individual define what matters most to me and how I will spend my time.

I challenge you to do the same.

Commit an hour a day to a new activity. One that doesn’t involve the Internet or work. Take this time to reflect, think, and enjoy the beauty in the world around you.

You’ll be surprised with what you learn about yourself.

This article was originally published on Medium