I’ve written a few previous posts about my wish to have everything in my life align with who I am and what I value most. I started calling this Life Alignment, without knowing if this was a real thing or just something I made up in my head. For me, Life Alignment means:
- Everything in my life – work, hobbies, side hustles, family – is somehow aligned, connected, in a kind of flow.
- There is a common theme or passion running through everything in my life.
- Everything in my life feels like it’s in balance and harmony.
You’re forgiven if this doesn’t make sense to you; I’m still figuring it out myself! I don’t always know how to describe Life Alignment, but I know it when I see it. Like my friend whose passion in life is early childhood mental health; her job is in that field, she listens to podcasts and reads articles and books related to that subject, and she spends as much of her time around young children as possible. And my friend who is all about social change and service; he works in that realm, he volunteers and advocates for causes he cares about in his free time, and he is well-informed and well-read on the issues he cares about. THAT’S what Life Alignment is to me.
The summer is a great time to reflect, and I started a little low-validity low-stress research project related to Life Alignment. I scrolled through my Facebook friends, one by one, and I took note of any friends that seem to have the kind of Life Alignment I am seeking. I was surprised to find that there weren’t many – maybe 15 people out of several hundred friends.
Now, to be fair – this was not a scientific experiment. For many of these people, I have no idea what their passions are or if their work lines up with their values. It could be that many more people feel they have Life Alignment, even if it doesn’t seem obvious to me that they’ve got it. And, for the 15 people that I see as having great Life Alignment – I have no idea if they feel aligned! Maybe my friend who is a yoga instructor and seems so passionate about her work and her hobbies secretly wishes she was a travel writer. Maybe my friend who spends all her time gardening and cooking actually wishes that her life was centered around education or politics. You cannot tell how satisfied someone is with their Life Alignment by checking their Instagram feed; I know this.
However, this non-scientific bit of research was helpful to me. It showed me that the thing I’m seeking is rare and perhaps challenging to achieve. It showed me that Life Alignment is probably not as clear-cut for most people as it is for my friend who teaches, plays, lives, and breathes softball. For most of us, perhaps it’s more subtle; there might be things that tie my life together, but maybe my life will have multiple themes that are woven together throughout my work, play, family, and home.
I scribbled a list of things that I’m passionate about, thinking, I’ll know that I have Life Alignment when my life includes all of these passions in some way. (Wait for it.) Here’s the list: writing; books + reading; adoption + family + parenting; children with special needs; the outdoors; exercise; mindfulness + meditation; laughter + silliness + play; honesty and authenticity and shameless truth telling; mental health + wellness + recovery; and service.
I mean, come on. Talk about unattainable! That list is long. Maybe it’s impossible to incorporate every single one of your passions into your life’s work. For my current job, I’m a school social worker at a public middle school. That means my work days could potentially incorporate the themes of mindfulness, meditation, laughter, silliness, play, mental health, wellness, and parenting. That’s a lot; there’s a lot of potential to weave my interests into my days. Of course, to do so, I have to be intentional. I have to either work toward achieving Life Alignment or just allow Life Alignment to have a stronger influence on my everyday activities than other factors might.
I’m going to continue to explore this topic, in my writing and in my thoughts. I’ve slowing been developing a skeleton plan for how to have greater alignment in my personal and professional life. Getting a job with summers off was an amazing first step. Incorporating mindfulness and play into my work is a great second step. Onward!