“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
In the age of constant connectedness, we’re all guilty of spending time with our loved ones that isn't necessarily quality time. That is, we’re often peering at our phones while we’re at the dinner table, or playing with our children. It isn’t our entire fault. With it being so easy to connect remotely to other people, many jobs are demanding more of their employees. The 40-hour workweek is a thing of the past for most, with evening and weekend work becoming commonplace. As a result, we work and juggle and learn to manage, but there’s an obvious area of life that suffers.
Work-life balance has been a buzz phrase for the past few years. We’re trying to find a way to lead successful careers but still have social lives, tend to our families, and feel well rounded without cutting corners. Self-proclaimed titan, writer, director, and all-around superwoman Shonda Rhimes discussed this very idea at the 2016 TED Conference, in her discussion on the hum that drives her. Rhimes thought the hum was working, creating, putting hours into the worlds she created. But when she lost the hum, she could only find it again by learning how to say no to work and yes to play. It was only after realizing she was missing out on the details of her three daughters lives that she could realize that “work doesn’t work without play.” And so she did what she had to do, though she admits she isn’t good at it, she played.
So how to unplug? The first step is to make sure everyone is unplugged. You can’t spend undistracted time with others if you yourself are distracted, and that goes for each member of your family. Then, come together and determine an activity that everyone will enjoy. Perhaps you’ll go for a bike ride or a hike together. Maybe you’ll pick a night each week to go to the movies, or to watch a TV show. The idea is that you should all be doing something you enjoy as individuals and as a group. Once that foundation has been laid, a conversation will start to flow. For many people, conversation comes more naturally when they are also doing something else. If you’ve ever taken a road trip and had a long, heartfelt conversation in a car, you know how this feels.
While putting an effort into this uninterrupted time together is important, it won’t necessarily be easy. That’s why it’s important not to beat yourself up when you don’t get it right. The fact is you won’t get it right every time, but the little bits when you do will make a difference.
You can view Shonda Rhimes' TED talk in its entirety here.