We had the good fortune of connecting with Jade Hwang and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jade, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work Life Balance is a Myth, Find Harmony

When I first started working, I realized quickly that I was not going to last long in a traditional setting. I was fresh out of college, making decent salary with benefits and job security, what more could I ask for? A year into my professional life I was completely burned out and less than enthusiastic about my career. There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to spend a third of my life (plus overtime) at a high-stress job, go home and forget about it for a few hours while I squeeze in the rest of my life and then wake up and do it all again the next day. For forty years. With two weeks of vacation.

I tried to “save” time during the day by skipping lunch to run errands or get in a workout but at the end of the week, there was no time banked to withdraw. I was constantly exhausted and stressed and the joys of life started slipping away. A lot of people can probably relate to this. You spend eight hours of your day working, another “recommended” eight hours sleeping, leaving the remaining eight hours for literally everything else. Finding work life balance in this equation is undeniably difficult and arguably impossible.

The way that we use the word balance connotates things are shaky. If someone says, “I’m balancing five things at once” it is not a good thing. At any moment all those spinning plates could come crashing down. Balance requires some kind of proportional distribution. Adding or taking away from one area would implicitly, affect other areas. When someone or something is off balance inherent instabilities are exposed. This means that even if we do find a sustainable work life balance any changes put that balance in jeopardy.

Teetering is technically balancing but is susceptible to demise with even the slightest shift of wind. This fragility is what part of what led me to be an entrepreneur and more importantly to seek a life in harmony. A life where my personal interests and passions are aligned and supported by my professional goals and aspirations, and vice versa. A harmonious life is fluid, adaptable to ebbs and flows and feeds the network of support and resources that are needed to navigate the seas ahead.

Consider the earlier statement, “I’m balancing five things at once.” This sounds like a stressed-out person is in a precarious situation. Now instead consider this statement. “I’m harmonizing five things at once.” This sounds like some real enlightened shit from a person (possibly slightly medicated) who is finding ways to make their five things work together. These could be the exact same five things. The difference between balancing and harmonizing is subtle, but meaningful.

Imagine the various priorities in your life as seedlings that need to be cared for in order to reach their full maturity as trees. One seed represents work, another family, one personal development, etc. In order for a tree to grow from a seed it is going to need a pot, soil, water, sunlight, a few kind words and on-going care until it is strong enough to thrive on its own. At that point your tree just requires maintenance and only occasionally needs intense attention or care.

When your life is in harmony, each seed is getting what it needs when it needs it. The goal is to grow the seeds of the things that are most important to you in connection with one another. There is no conflict between your well-being, your career and your personal life because they are aligned and working together. This means an active, hands-on approach to managing your life so that you can continually optimize as the situation calls. Being open to change, eliminating what no longer serves you and asking for help are all ways that we can make small adjustments and upgrades. There will be give and take, sacrifices and compromises but when you live in harmony these come with intention and serve a purpose.

There are going to be times when your career is going to have a higher demand on your life, for example when you are taking on a new project. During those times you can’t completely ignore the other areas of your life but if they have strong roots they should be able to weather the storm while you temporarily reallocate some of your energy and resources. A life built in harmony can adapt, mobilize and adjust as needed because multiple areas are aligned, and working toward the same or compatible end goal(s).

Living a harmonized life has given me the strength and support to pursue my dreams. With all the uncertainties in life, finding harmony helps makes the journey smoother. Prioritizing, making a to-do list and having a schedule helps us get shit done, but the real magic happens when our daily habits and practices encourage growth in multiple areas simultaneously.

A common thread shared by many entrepreneurs is that you are never fully away from work. You may have the freedom to dictate your own schedule or take time off but ultimately you are always thinking about the next big thing, finding ways to improve your business or solving a problem. Not only that but how you spend your “free time” must be aligned with your brand and public image, otherwise you better have a great PR rep. As a martial artist and (self-proclaimed) health and wellness enthusiast people look to for me inspiration. It doesn’t matter if I am technically at work, I am always representing my business and my brand.

Regardless of optics, living a harmonious life is efficient and effective because you allocate resources and make decisions that enhance or benefit multiple areas of your life at the same time. It’s a partnership of your priorities, interests and responsibilities.

Here’s a simple example. Every day I take my dogs for a walk around the neighborhood, a standard responsibility of having furry family members. But these walks are not a chore. They bring me daily joy. I’m not just taking my dogs for a walk. I’m getting fresh air and sunshine, exercising, meditating, listening to podcasts, meeting other dogs and experiencing whatever else crosses my path – like my first encounter with a coyote. The days that my husband can join me we walk and talk about the upcoming week, sometimes we grab a coffee. It’s simple but these mini dates are what we need to stay connected despite our busy schedules.

Compartmentalizing our lives assumes that by focusing on or giving attention to one area another area loses resources, gets neglected and thereby suffers. The reality is the needs and demands of our lives are constantly changing. There are times when work will demand more of your attention and occasions when you will need to drop everything you are doing to be there for your loved ones. A life in harmony is ready for it all. Living a harmonious life takes practice, patience and a growth mindset. You never really know what is coming your way but when you are set up for success there is excitement in the possibilities.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
KBX PHX is the culmination of experience, passion and friendship. My life-long friend, John Karstadt and I grew up training and competing together in martial arts. Over the years we had entertained the idea of opening a Taekwon-Do training center but despite our efforts, things just weren’t falling into place. Something wasn’t right so we took a step back, and re-evaluated the situation. We decided we wanted to step outside of the traditional training system and try something new, a way to help everyone achieve the benefits of martial arts in a more modern atmosphere. Martial arts are an awesome way to not only workout but build confidence and learn self-defense but the truth is that getting started in martial arts as an adult can be intimidating. The goal at KBX is to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome regardless of experience or skill level.

I am proud of all the details that make KBX a unique experience, from the color theme (KBX blue to represent water) to the cool cloths (scented for your pleasure) and the hand selected playlists. But most of all I am proud of how our members push their limits and step out of their comfort zone. We are constantly finding ways to upgrade the workouts and present people with new challenges because they are always crushing it and setting the bar a little higher. Seeing people become the best versions of themselves is the ultimate reward.

A business owner who claims to have had an easy path is probably unicorn level rare. You don’t know what you don’t know so no matter how much preparing and planning you do the only thing you can count on is that there will be obstacles to overcome, massive boulder sized obstacles. When we first got started with the business there was a runway of hurdles slowing down the process. Some were self-imposed by products aiming for perfection in our product and other “life lessons” that were thrown at us were completely out of our control.

After two years of planning, assembling an all-star team and moving cross country KBX officially opened in October 2019. For five months we were riding high, filling up our brand new studio with amazing, high energy people. Life was good…I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next but here’s the Cliffs note version. The pandemic. With only a few hours’ notice we had to close the studio by executive order. Days turned into weeks and months and eventually we made the decision to close the studio permanently.

KBX continued online and we used the time to build our program and expand our services and include nutrition guidance and mindset coaching. Our online program brought people together from all over the world at a time when human connection and a healthy daily routine was missing. Months went by and although we were making progress the future of KBX was in serious jeopardy. It was once again time to evaluate situation. Being online served its purpose but we needed to get back in person. The search was on for a new studio.

I am happy to say that we found a new home, bigger and better than our first location. October 2021 marks officially two years of KBX and it has been an absolute rollercoaster. There are days that I really do not know how we survived the last two years and have actually used the time to further develop our program. What I do know is that if we can find a way to come out stronger from this then we must be built to last. The pandemic was not the last challenge that we will face but now I have more confidence that we can figure out whatever comes our way.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am originally from the east coast and came to Arizona in search of a more active, culturally inspired, outdoor life. So far I am absolutely in love with it and constantly trying to convince people to move here. When people come to visit there are endless fun and exciting things to do.

Hiking is a must! What better way to enjoy Arizona than checking out the beautiful scenery while getting fresh air and sunshine. It doesn’t hurt to burn a few extra calories while visiting so we can be guilt free while taking advantage of the all tasty food and drinks. Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays and a margarita a day keeps the doctor away. My diet is mostly plant based and there are tons of vegan restaurants and places that have vegan menus. People are aways pleasantly surprised at how many plant based options there are at places like Green and Dilla Libre.

Growing up a New England sports fan made the transition to Arizona teams a little tough but now I’m a full fledged member of the fan club. Visitors are always excited to catch a game and cheer on the home team.

Arizona has something for everyone from cowboys to concerts there is no shortage of fun to be had and I look forward to people visiting so we can explore it all!!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My support system is everything! My husband, Scott and son, Jack uprooted their lives so that I could pursue my projects.. The whole crew at KBX who have gone along for this crazy ride, never losing faith and trusting the process along the way. My mom and my sister who have always been my biggest cheerleaders. For all of the people who inspire me along the way. I am truly grateful.

Website: kbxphx.com

Instagram: @jade_kbx_phx

Linkedin: Jade Hwang

Facebook: @JadeHwang

Other: @kbxphx – instagram

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