As I mentioned in my last blog post, a lot has happened these last few years. All great and wonderful things, mind you. But, with great and wonderful things also comes great and wonderful challenges. One of my biggest challenges, particularly since becoming a father, has been to create more balance in my life.
The thing is, I’m not a huge fan of the phrase work-life balance. I think the phrase is limiting and misleading. Here’s why.
‘Work’ isn’t a problem for everyone
For one, I think the word ‘work’ needs to be removed from the phrase. This is because the significance of work differs according to an individual’s needs and values.
For example, a person might need to work 60 or 80-hours per week in order to make ends meet. But someone else may need to only work 20-hours per week in order to meet their financial goals. For people in retirement, they may not need to work at all.
Yet, regardless of how important work is for someone, the phrase is used unilaterally for anyone looking for more balance in life. The phrase work-life balance implies that balance is only something for people who work. If you don’t work, then, you shouldn’t have a problem attaining balance.
This is untrue. Even people with good boundaries at work struggle with balance outside of work.
So, let’s remove the word ‘work’ from the term work-life balance. Now, we’re left with life balance. Personally, I like this term. But, it’s also a bit empty. That is, there’s no explanation of what life refers to when trying to attain personal balance.
This leads to my next point.
I think another problem with the idea of work-life balance is that there is a lack of clarity on what exactly needs balancing. That is, what does the word life refer to in the phrase work-life balance? Does it refer to social relationships, hobbies, or physical health? What are the areas that I need to pay attention to in order to feel balanced?
‘Life’ includes work. The two do not have to be separated. When you are looking to have more balance across the different domains of your life (e.g., relationships, hobbies, physical health) recognize that feeling satisfied with these other areas of your life can actually help you to enjoy work. Everything is connected.
In my next post, I plan on sharing a blueprint that I have been using in my own life to attain a degree of balance. Until then, here are a few ideas on how you can apply these points in your pursuit of balanced living.
1. Reflect on the role of work in your life. Think about how important work is to you by comparing it with the other things that you also value. Once you have some clarity in this regard, start carving out ways that you can either cutback or increase the amount of time and energy you want to devote to work.
2. Think about the people in your life. What are your relationships like? I’m referring to everyone from friends to family. Research has shown that healthy relationships can improve your quality of life, and even help you to live longer. Think of what you can do to improve them.
3. Pay attention to your body and mind. When we are unbalanced (i.e., spending too much time on only one part of our life), it compromises our physical and mental health. Paying attention to your physical and mental health needs can force you into making better decisions on how to spend your time.
I hope these points start your thinking on how to achieve more balance and growth.