By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO
This is about the myths and misconceptions surrounding the many interconnected roles, relationships, and responsibilities we face each day, often referred to as this thing called “work-life balance.”
When it comes to this thing called work-life balance…
The First Truth
You can define work-life balance however you want.
There are a lot of ways to talk about this concept, but only one way that feels right for you.
And please, use your own WORDS to define the details of what it means to you.
Most people share a similar desire, which is to create easy joy and meaningful engagement between the interconnected roles, relationships, and responsibilities that make up life.
That said, there are as many ways as there are people on the planet to describe what living a balanced life would feel like. When it comes to balance, everybody has their own idea of what is comfortable, tolerable, and acceptable.
There is no right or wrong way to define balance. It is what it is for you and for you alone.
The Second Truth
You will be in and out of balance your entire life.
This is just the way the world works.
Things like new jobs, new relationships, new homes, new roles, new hobbies, births, deaths, and health (yours and others’) will all impact your needs for balance.
Your needs for balance will forever be evolving.
Your secret power is in recognizing and accepting that what you need now, in this moment, is very different than what you will need 12 months from now or one, five, seven, or 10 years from now.
Once you have accepted that your needs will change, it becomes about knowing and understanding your needs, making choices that support your needs, and communicating your needs with the important people in your life.
You will be in and out of balance your entire life.
Acknowledging and accepting accountability for your needs, wants, and desires is your secret power.
The Third Truth
Work-life balance has nothing to do with work.
Not the type of work you do…
We all have responsibilities that can be considered work. Whether you get paid for what you do or not. More than that, balance has nothing to do with your gender, family structure, parental status, religion, education, income, or geographic location.
Work-life balance is not about any of these things specifically — it’s mostly about the type of conversations we have or the conversations we avoid having about these things, as well as our feelings about the impact of these things on our lives.
Most of the issues we attribute to being “out of balance” at work or at home can be traced back to (and resolved through) a conversation — to be specific, an authentic conversation. (You know, the kind where you say what you REALLY mean.)
What gets us in trouble and keeps us busy and disengaged are the conversations we are NOT having with our boss, our business partners, our customers, our friends, our significant others, our children, and — especially — ourselves.
It’s possible that 99% of the time, these conversations we are not having are about the triggers that are causing the imbalance in our life.
These triggers, most times, boil down to your values and the boundaries (or lack of boundaries) that support and honor your values in all the relationships you are in:
the relationship you have with work,
relationships you have with others (in and out of work),
and the relationship you have with yourself.
Why are so many people not having these types of conversations?
The answer is simple. In most cases, it boils down to fear: Fear of rejection. Fear of being perceived as “less than.”
Fear of failing. Fear of asking for help. Fear of being different. Fear of actually being perceived as both balanced and successful.
Sometimes these conversations that we avoid are about saying no (and our fear of saying no).
Saying no to someone at work or someone you love might let them down, and no one wants to let anyone down, especially on purpose.
Let’s be honest: It’s easier to say no to your own needs than to disappoint someone else. (Even if it means disappointing yourself.)
When you say yes to people, requests, and projects, that are in conflict with your values, or when you engage with people who do not support — or even worse, who disrespect — your values, you are actually saying “no” to yourself and creating imbalance in your life.
work-life balance has nothing to do with work. It’s about authentically owning and clearly communicating your yes’s and no’s to the people WHO share your life.
(which includes yourself)
The Fourth Truth
Creating balance is free. (Great news — because everyone loves free!)
When it comes to creating work-life balance, you don’t have to…
These are all options you can choose — but you don’t have to do any of them. The only thing you have to do is choose balance as a lifestyle.
Okay, so you make the choice — you want balance.
Start small. Pay attention more.
Many people don’t spend much time where they are. They are either still thinking about where they have been or thinking about where they will be — which robs them of being where they are when they are there. The richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor have equal access to the currency of presence.
There is no cost whatsoever to being present.
It’s free to pay attention to your environment and see and feel as much (or as little) of the experience that you want. It’s free to pay attention to the people and the relationships in your life — to slow down, to really hear what is being said, and to notice what is not being said. It’s free to pay attention to you. Your body, your feelings, your wants, your desires, and especially, your thoughts.
We have all experienced this thing called presenteeism.
This is when you show up physically, but not mentally. The impact is that you are unable to be in the moment and contribute your best, because you are distracted about whatever might happen in the future or are reliving what has happened in the past.
(It’s okay — we’ve all done it, and will do it again, because sometimes that’s just what happens.)
Odds are you already have a pretty great life. Paying more attention might make it feel even better. Connecting to what you already have is free. It’s the disconnection that can cost you dearly.
The Fifth Truth
The choice is yours to create balance each day.
It’s your choice to define what balance means to you.
It’s your choice to accept that there will be times of greater imbalance.
It’s your choice to own and authentically express your yes’s and no’s.
Some days you might make choices that support your definition of balance, and other days you might make choices that sabotage the type of balance you are seeking.
The magic is that every single day, the choice is yours to make again, and again, and again.
The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance are SIMPLE:
- You can define work-life balance however you want.
- You will be in and out of balance your entire life.
- Balance has nothing to do with work.
- Creating Balance is free.
- The choice is yours to create balance each day.
What you choose to do with these truths is up to you. The choice is yours.