The Myth of Work Life Balance
There were many years early on in adulthood where I felt like my life was out of balance. Despite the strongest efforts and best of intentions, I couldn’t ever get it so that each area of my life got equal amounts of attention. It seemed like an impossible task to give absolutely everything the energy it needed.
After years of frustration, I finally came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as balance. You heard me right, but I want you to read that last sentence one more time so it sticks.
There is no such thing as work life balance.
If trying to master the paradoxical dichotomy of work life balance has been equally frustrating for you, it’s time to let it go. You’d have an easier time corralling a unicorn or trapping Bigfoot. But not to worry, there’s a higher level of thinking that will light your path to a life of both success and contentment.
We are constantly bombarded with this idea that we should live a balanced life, and yet no one seems able to explain exactly what that means. It’s as if we have certain areas of our life like our home or work life, our health and relationships that should get equal amounts of time all of the time.
What’s worse, there’s the self induced implication that if we don’t preserve equal time for them all, then we have somehow failed. I don’t know about you, but in practical execution, that has just not been my experience. In a world where nobody is capable of prescribing what balance really means and real life presents us with evidence to the contrary, it seems logical to abandon the concept altogether.
With that in mind, I’m pretty sure balance is not my goal. Maybe a higher level of thinking would be the concept of me giving life exactly what it requires of me at this time, and being ok with it.
My life has required certain concentrations of time at different points. When I was an intern working 80 hours a week in the hospital, for instance, to all outside appearances my life was very out of balance. I was not able to pay a lot of attention to working out, my finances, or my relationships. But I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing at that point in my life.
On the other hand, if I am 58 years old and I am working 80 hours per week at the neglect of my health and my family, that may not be what I need to be doing. In other words, instead of fixating on an equilibrium of like effort, we should focus on observing our actions and weigh how they represent what we most want from our life.
During our weekly planning, as we lay out what the week ahead looks like instead of trying to balance everything as if it has the same weight, what if we take some time to ask these questions:
What is life requiring of me right now?
What is the best use of my energy and time?
How would my week best be utilized and where should I focus my time and effort?
To be clear, I am not advocating we ignore our bodies or our relationships, or sharpening the sword. We need to take time to learn and to improve our fitness, mental health and spirituality.
These are all important things as I lay out in my international bestselling book, Living Every Minute. However, the amount of time and expenditure of emotional investment every day, week, month and year will vary based on your needs, wants, hopes and dreams. Being in control and accepting that fact is the difference between a life of fulfillment and a life of frustration. I strongly recommend the former over the latter.
Once we are clear about what life is requiring, then we can start to plan our week ahead by putting in the big rocks first. Making sure we are keeping the most important thing prioritized as the most important thing. Each morning we review our week plan and make sure we are on track and that there are no new distractions or things that need our urgent attention. If there are we simply adjust the plan.
A great way to think about this is to draw 7 circles and label them health, wealth, relationships, money, career, self-improvement, and adventure. Now put a number between 1-10 for the energy and time you are giving that area of your life for the coming week. Be honest. Now ask yourself if this is ok?
Not if it is ok with the world but if it is ok with you. For where you are right now and for what life is requiring of you right now, is that ok? If it is, then plan and execute. If it is not, then adjust some time or energy until you are good with it. Always re-evaluate and always be honest. This is your life you are planning and living. You get to make the rules. But if you don’t make the rules for yourself, life will make them for you.
Our Living Every Minute Planner Journal is specially designed to enable the execution of this philosophy. You can learn more and even order yours today right here on our website.
So let go of any guilt you may have been feeling about your life being “out of balance.” Focus on the empowering feeling of intentionality. Remember, as long as your life is serving your ultimate purpose and serving others, the time that you have is yours to spend. So spend it, when you want, how you want and with whom you want.
Living Every Minute,
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