So much has been written about achieving ‘work-life balance’ and this is one area where I struggled for many years. That is until I realised that work-life balance isn’t what I was looking for….
Here is the definition of balance.
- an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
- a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions …
Now this sounds absolutely lovely; work 8 hours a day, play with family and friends 8 hours a day and sleep 8 hours a day … every day.
It simply doesn’t happen.
We pull ourselves in every which direction trying to figure out how to shave time here to move there. We guilt ourselves when we wonder why we just can’t seem to figure it out.
But here’s what I figured out.
That balance doesn’t have to be in equal proportions.
It just has to be in correct proportions.
So if that balance is 6 hours of work + 4 hours of family time + 2 hours of friend time + 4 hours of personal errands time then perhaps that is the right proportion … for you.
That’s YOUR balance.
Better still … that’s your choice about how YOU spend your time.
So #1, stop trying to subscribe to an arbitrary expectation of where and how you should spend your time.
Of course, if you’ve got a formal employment contract that requires 8 hours a day then by all means uphold that contract. But where you can choose your balance, make sure you are actually making the choice rather than going with the flow or subscribing to some arbitrary allotment of time.
The second thing I figured out is that balance is often momentary.
Just think about trying to balance on a tightrope.
The minute the tightrope walker looks solidly balanced, something happens. Either the wind changes direction ever so slightly, there tightrope swings ever so slightly, the tightrope walker himself/herself shifts ever so slightly, or something like that.
And that’s a metaphor for life. Just when we seem to be in a place of calm, something outside us or inside us, shifts … even if slightly.
And we must then do what the tightrope walker does … rebalance …. adjust … choose again.
So if you ask me, I don’t think work-life balance is the right term. Forget balancing … I want to make the right work-life choices.
And I accept that it is a constant daily choice I am having to make for each external or internal interruption that tugs at the previous equilibrium I just made.
Change happens. I just want to be the one directing the traffic.