Does Work / Life Balance Really Exist?
Work / Life Balance.
We have all heard this elusive phrase before and most likely, have strived to find it in our lives.
What does is even mean?
Work/ Life balance is when you feel like everything is in harmony. I have to wonder about this though, for most of us, having "everything" in harmony is probably not very realistic.
Our expectations around what does work/life balance look like are probably unachievable to begin with, which sets us up for failure from the get go.
We have so much judgement, on ourselves for not being able to balance all of our commitments and from viewing other people, and how they supposedly are able to balance their lives better.
When we see other people's lives from our perspective, they may look like they have it all together. As we're scrolling through social media, seeing their life highlights, it's natural to feel inadequate or like you're not succeeding at life.
But when we judge people from the outside, we have no idea of their story and how much balance they really do have.
We put SO much pressure on ourselves to keep everything in balance, when it's probably unattainable.
I actually hate the "work/life balance" phrase. There has been some research coming out about it that confirms my suspicions, that it's allusive and doesn't really exist.
One theory about finding a balanced state of life is "lean in and lean out", which is one I regularly use with my clients. It's a practice of continually reviewing, looking at where you're putting your focus and where it needs to be at different times.
You might have a major project on the go which requires you to focus more on work for that time period. If we're trying to lead a "balanced" life we add on to that stress of that project by worrying that we aren't spending enough time with our family, or sacrificing our gym time or whatever our other priorities might be.
Instead of trying to just fit it all in (and not do anything properly), I ask my clients "how long will this particular project go for?" and "what does this project look like?. Perhaps then, is it okay or the length of this project, to allow yourself extra time at work to get it done?
When you put a time frame on it and keep a specific goal in mind, you can work towards your project guilt free, then once it's completed, bring the focus back to the other areas of your life.
In practice for me, my daughter has her school orientation next week which will take a whole day out of my working week. I'll put my full focus into her, then for the rest of the week, work extra hours to make up for that day. I can be flexible, knowing that it will balance out eventually and accept that this may not all happen at once.
Once you start lifting the expectations off yourself about what you should be doing, and look at it instead in terms of projects, time frames and your priorities, a certain balance can be achieved.
As long as you keep in mind not to let the short term behaviour become a regular behaviour. Keep your priorities at the forefront of what you do and check in with yourself regularly!