WHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE DOES NOT EXIST
How often do you hear the phrase work-life balance?
What comes to mind when you hear that term?
Is it guilt, resentment, missing the mark or falling short? Not feeling good enough, or maybe you feel great knowing that you are where you need to be in this journey of life. For those of you who answered with negative emotion, you aren’t alone. While it may be a subject of importance in the world of self-help and personal development, I think the term is malarkey.
EVERYONE GOES THROUGH SEASONS
No matter where you are at in your life, you may be focusing on one, maybe two or for you adventurous souls – juggling several significant areas of your life at one time. For the sake of this post, I will refer to these areas as seasons.
In applying this theory in my own life, I recently entered a new season and now have two school-aged children while managing two different businesses. At this point, I consider the work aspect of my life part-time. It is challenging to be all in with work and still manage to be part of my kid’s lives; volunteering in their classrooms, sports, and getting them to their activities (on time, gasp). Rather than have this overarching expectation that I can do it all and be excellent in every area, I am deliberately choosing to be part of their life while I am able. This is one of many seasons for me.
While applying the context of work-life balance to my current situation and viewing it through the lens of a recovering perfectionist, overachiever, type A; I plan to focus on what I can by identifying what it is that I want right now. Not what I wanted as a 30-year old, or what my parents envisioned for me when I was in college – or even what I wanted a year ago because that has changed.
FIGURING OUT “RIGHT NOW” IS MORE IMPORTANT
Ask the question.
What is it I want right now? To answer this question honestly, I have to get clear about what I want to experience and how I want to feel.
Creating goals is a fantastic and systematic way to get results and stay on track, and I encourage goal setting and planning in all seasons of life. However, how often do you ask yourself this critical question? What is driving this want? Is it coming from a place of truth, purpose, and core values, or is it dictated by the most celebrated reel on social media and what you perceive from what others are doing with their lives?
At first, it was freedom, to be debt-free, go on vacations, see my East coast family more often, be able to do physically hard activities, and give back as much as possible. Yeah yeah, blah blah… after asking why, and why a few more times, I distilled down that I want to be an awesome mom. I want to be a great partner. I want to listen more than I speak. I want to be present because the point of power is in the present moment. I want to be an amazing Coach. I want to do that darn headstand in yoga.
OTHER PRIORITIES MATTER
Right now, my number one priority is my family (and my marriage). This does not mean that I am going to ignore my work and my clients. Work is significant to me, however, I recognize this is my season to show up and be fully present and engaged in my kid’s life. Does this mean I don’t give a bleep about building my business? Of course not. It just means that I have made a decision based on my wants and values at this time (season) in my life. When I’m overwhelmed or disappointed that I am not further down the ‘work path’, or feeling pulled in other directions in what I should be doing, honoring this priority will guide me without overthinking and feeling guilt ridden and shame. It’s my compass pointing me in the direction I want to be headed in.
WORK-LIFE BALANCE IS UNREALISTIC
Here’s the thing. Nobody has told me what I need to do other than me. I haven’t subscribed to the work-life balance jargon and having it all. Of course, I want it all – but at what cost? My health, my relationships, my spiritual well-being? I believe the mindset of work-life balance sets us up (especially for women) for false expectations and unrealistic outcomes that lead to perfectionism, lack of worthiness, and self-doubt. That we can do it all and be good at it all and to top it, sport chiseled abs, go out with our friends every week whiling tending to the household budget, cooking nutritious meals every night, and reporting to our VP role in the company we worked so hard to get into. No one is going to ever measure up to that.
Give yourself permission to BE in whatever season you want to be in now. Do what is right for you at this moment in your life. It may be working very hard at your job that requires long hours away from home, homeschooling your children or taking a leave of absence to travel, volunteer, or figure out what it is that lights you up. The only wrong choice is the one you didn’t make because you were too busy trying to be all of it. Don’t give in to the notion that you have to be it all or have it all. You certainly can be and do it all if you choose, but make sure it comes from a place of self-love and part of your core beliefs and values.
A few questions that you can ask yourself in this process:
- What do I want?
- Then get curious and ask why?
- And why….
Keep asking the question until you are connecting emotion with it. We are seeking a feeling and relating it to an outcome or experience. Becoming clear about what you want creates the foundation for determining what to prioritize and what you can say no too so you can start saying yes to what matters to you. Start choosing you. It’s not selfish. It’s empowering you to show up in the world so you can share your unique skills and perspective. That is how you can make the world a better place. It starts with you!