Many of us grow up thinking that achieving work-life balance means being able to “do it all.”
We pursue an elusive, and many times impossible, goal of staying on top of our workload while having plenty of time left over to fulfill our personal needs.
It’s almost like pursuing a story from a movie: we think we should get up each day, have an incredibly productive day at work, and spend our off-hours focused on personal growth, friends & family, self-care, and more.
We picture this and yearn to have a feeling of peace and contentment as we navigate our days.
In reality, work-life balance is much more complicated. It looks different for each person, each job, each time of year, and each family situation.
The secret to establishing a good work-life balance is accepting the fluidity of this balance and navigating each day to respect the balance of work and personal demands that the day brings.
Dispelling The Myth Of 50/50 Work-Life Balance
Before I explain what work-life balance is, I always like to make sure my clients understand that work-life balance doesn’t mean a 50/50 balance - in fact, it’s almost never an even division of time.
Work-life time distribution can - and should - be fluid. As your schedule, goals, and life in general change over time, your work-life balance will vary by the day, week, month, and season.
Work-Life Balance Defined
Work-life balance is the idea that a person can split their time and energy in a way that balances work demands with their personal life.
Achieving that balance is a daily challenge for many of us! Each person has unique demands of their job that need to be balanced with other aspects of their life, such as:
One person’s ideal work-life balance will be different from the next person’s, and each person’s prioritization of work vs. personal life may change from one day to the next.
Work-Life Balance In The Digital Era
Twenty-five years ago, physical location helped define the work-life balance.
When you left work, it was difficult or even impossible to take work home. The line between professional and personal was much easier to define.
Technological developments have blurred this personal/professional-life division. Cell phones, cloud-based software, and the internet all bring work just a screen-glance away.
Work-life balance has become something that takes conscious thought and follow-through.
Leaving the physical workplace is no longer the transition from work to personal in your day; in many cases stopping work involves a deliberate decision to stop checking emails and texts, or logging out of work on your computer.
Honor Your Mental And Physical Health When Defining Your Work-Life Balance
It’s so important to honor your unique life needs when evaluating what work-life balance works for you.
It’s also important to remember that what might be stressful or successful for one person may not be for another. That’s why you should not compare yourself to others, or the work-life balance they maintain (or appear on social media to maintain).
Your goal is to find a work-life balance that minimizes your stress and creates opportunities for your happiness.
When your life is out of balance, it causes stress. Living with chronic stress can affect you both physically and mentally:
Physical health effects Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, digestive issues, heart problems, and chronic aches and pains.
Mental health effects Chronic stress is linked to higher risk of anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which in turn can cause fatigue, irritability, and mood swings.
By honoring your own specific needs, you empower yourself to find a balance that supports physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Factors That Can Affect Work-Life Balance
As you are learning, there is no one-size fits all answer when it comes to work-life balance. Think of how your work-life balance might change based on the following:
Kids are in school vs. kids are home for the summer
Weather warms up, outside time is more enjoyable
Exercise schedule changes
Partner takes time off work
Different days of the week
Working from home vs working in the office
Week vs. weekend
Changing dynamics of your life
Stage of life change (single, married, have kids, retired)
As you can see, balance is never constant; it’s an ebb and flow and means different things at different times.
So How Do You Define YOUR Work-Life Balance?
Finding the right balance means being in tune with each different area of your life, and finding a work-life balance that honors your needs and goals.
Spend time looking at your life and your work; ask yourself what brings the most joy and allows you to be present, and what gives you feelings of pride and satisfaction?
In the article Bring Balance Back I discuss the 8 Areas of Focus that can help you answer these questions, and take an in-depth look at how to achieve them in your personal and professional life using the “Mindset-Strategy-Action” approach.
Embrace the freedom of not having a perfect, one-size fits all, balance that you need to strive for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.
The Beauty of Work-Life Balance
When you have a healthy work-life balance, it instills a sense of peace and fulfillment in the day-to-day balance of your life.
Not only do you feel achievement, but you feel happiness as well. You focus on your work knowing you will replenish yourself on a personal level before the day is out.
Because your perspective of work-life balance acknowledges its fluidity, you can adjust that day’s balance to reflect unforeseen developments without guilt or frustration.
You understand that the ebb and flow of work-life balance makes it OK to have changing needs: some days you may need to spend more time with friends or spend more time outside in nature, while other days you may need to put those things on hold while you focus on a big project at work.
You Have Already Taken the First Step to Finding Work-Life Balance!
Work-life balance is never constant, it’s a fluid balance that is continuously shifting to respect different needs. Just knowing that will empower you to make better choices when determining the best work-life balance for your unique life situation.
At the end of each day, ask yourself “did I feel a sense of accomplishment about something I did today?”, and “did I experience a sense of happiness about something?” Learn from your answers and adjust as you go!
Don’t forget to celebrate your successes as you learn more about what brings you balance on a work and a personal level.
Honor the knowledge that we all have different lives with different priorities, so we need to find our own, unique work-life balance.
Looking For Support and Guidance On Your Work-Life Balance Journey?
Helping clients discover and prioritize different work and life challenges is one of my passions. If you would like guidance as you find the right balance for your life and business, book a Work-Life Balance Coaching Consultation, where we can discuss your biggest goals and challenges, and the best way to create the balance you need to achieve the results you are looking for.
Let’s bring that work/life balance back!
Until next time,