In the corporate world, the concept of “work-life balance” is something that is often highlighted as being important and encouraged. Companies even use that as an initiative to create a more engaged and healthier work environment.
Busy entrepreneurs are also striving to have some sort of “balance” in their lives as they often believe they have to work long hours in order to do what’s necessary to grow and maintain their business. The constant focus on “work” often leads to thoughts that there must be some sort of “balance” in order to have a better life.
While the intention behind the idea may be valuable, is this idea of work-life balance actually beneficial to us?
I shared my perspective in a post I wrote previously on why we should stop chasing balance. In this post I will expand further on this idea of work-life balance and whether it is working for us or against us.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the term work-life balance. This is what we are saying to ourselves if we keep pursuing work-life balance — There is something wrong with my life which I need to fix.
It automatically implies that we’re actually out of balance because if we focus too much on work, then that is a bad thing and we must aim to have balance in life.
There may well be different perspectives on what work-life balance really means. Does it mean that in order to have a “good” life, every area of our life must be in balance?
In the personal development industry, there is an activity called “The Wheel of Life” exercise where people are asked to give a rating to the different areas of their life and shade in how it looks on their wheel of life. What this often reveals is that so many lives are out of balance, which is a useful thing to know, but I always questions whether anyone can ever have every area of their life in perfect balance.
By constantly focusing on whether we’re in balance or not, we reinforcing that something is wrong and it is not a good thing.
So what is the solution?
Here are three things I believe we should consider embracing, which in turn, can help us accept what it really means to have a life that is balanced.
- You will rarely, if ever, give equal attention to every area of your life. Let’s face it — there will be things happen in our life that will demand more of our attention and focus. For example, if we have a health issue, then most of the other things in our life will be of a lower priority at that time. Similarly, if we’re working on a major project or goal, then other things such as time for hobbies and fun, may take a back seat for a short period of time.It is okay if, at certain times, we give more time to particular areas of our life. I relate it to like being in the playoffs in sports. That will require all our focus for a period of time and that too shall pass. It is only a problem if this becomes a habitual way of operating and all we do is focus on one major thing after another.
- Define what a good life or a balanced life means to you. This is about clarifying what is or isn’t acceptable to us in order to have a good quality life. As long as we have a standard to hold ourselves to, then we should be okay with the choices or decisions we make daily. It will also be helpful to question whether we should even separate our work life from our “other” life. Are we any different when we’re at work compared to when we’re not at work?
- Be willing to face what isn’t working in your life. We all have things that we can improve in our lives, some which may be simple and some which may be extremely difficult or confronting. Instead of our lives being out of balance, it may well be that there are some issues which we haven’t being willing to look at and resolve. This is why having mentors, peers or coaches is extremely valuable as they can provide us with valuable feedback.
The message here is that if we keep chasing work-life balance, it will make us believe that there is something wrong with our life. The key is to be ensure that we are intentionally giving attention to the different areas of our lives, without placing so much emphasis on whether we’re in balance or not. This is what creates a life that is harmonious instead of a life that is balanced.
Question: What is your perspective on this idea of work-life balance?
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