The hope of finding work-life balance can feel like an elusive one. There is this myth that in order to find peace, contentment and joy, we should strive for balance between our jobs and personal life. However this striving for balance may be part of the problem.
When we separate work and personal life on two positive ends of the scale, we see them as separate. It is harder to make a connection between the two. However, in reality, both actually support the other. Success in one usually supports the other.
There is also a negative connotation of being “out of balance”. This adds additional pressure to maintain equilibrium. Thinking of balance in a fluid manner is more helpful in managing the day to day stressors and responsibilities of life. We remove the pressure of meeting this expectation that living life to its optimum means having the perfect balance across all facets of our lives.
Instead of thinking of balance as achieving equality on both sides of the scale, perhaps a more realistic and achievable alternative could incorporate the ability to flexibly shift your attention back and forth in a way that is meaningful to you? Kind of like playing on a see-saw. It does not have to mean giving up one thing for something else. But rather making mindful decisions on the actions you will take in that moment when faced with an obstacle, challenge or difficult choice. This decision, driven by your values and what is important to you, can make a difference in how you feel about the choices you’re making.
So, how do we then live in harmony with everything we’ve got going on? Well there is no one size fits all answer. The internet is full of tips and ideas, and the suggestions I offer below may help you make more meaningful choices in your day to day experience.
Ask yourself what really matters to you? (think of this in terms of “in the big picture”, aka your core values.)
Reflect on how you want to show up for the people you care about? The kind of parent, spouse, partner, friend, etc, that you want to be.
Reflect on your core values and how you would like them to manifest in your actions (at home, work, self-care)?
Be willing to let go of expectations that get in the way of what is really important to you. This may mean making tough choices so that you can engage in behaviors that are truly aligned with your values.
Notice with self compassion when the pursuit of goals becomes obsessive or addictive, then take pause to assess and evaluate if this pursuit is in line with your values.
Accept that your definition of having it all, or finding balance is not set in stone. Have flexibility and fluidity in this definition, allow it to evolve and shift with what each day brings forth.