A few years ago I wrote about balance, basically saying it didn’t exist.
It’s an unreasonable goal. Nothing is ever perfectly in balance. Instead, we should strive for Harmony.
A place where our life and work, while not perfectly balanced, work for us nonetheless.
A lot has changed in my life in the past few years.
As a result, I have a new perspective on the whole work life balance issue.
Balance is possible.
But you have to be willing to give up a few things to get it.
If your mindset is like mine was several years ago, and you’re striving to reach the top of your career and be the perfect parent, and take care of yourself in the process, I’m here to tell you that in that state—that mindset—balance does not exist.
If you’re trying to Keep up with the Joneses, personally or professionally, you’re unlikely to find the peace that balance provides.
If you’re trying to live every day as if it’s your last, balance will probably elude you.
If you’re striving for success, say sayonara to balance.
If your plate is overflowing, even with good stuff, you’re not going to experience balance.
Because in all of these scenarios you’re trying to squeeze every last bit of juice out of every single day of your life.
But wait, that’s how we’re supposed to live life, isn’t it?
We’re not supposed to put off til tomorrow what we can do today. We’re supposed to grab the bull by the horns. Live out loud. Live each day to the fullest. Or any of the other clichés that get bantered about, about how we ought to be living so we won’t regret the things we didn’t do, later.
Unfortunately, if you’re living full tilt, you’re going to be stressed.
And stress is the enemy of balance.
There’s never going to feel like there are enough hours in the day. You’ll go to bed each night with your head spinning about all the things you didn’t get done, and have trouble sleeping because you can’t turn your brain off.
And you certainly won’t feel balanced.
The drive toward career and financial success that’s instilled in us from the time we’re kids sets us up to chase work-life balance but never achieve it. Because within that mindset it’s impossible.
So, how do you find that elusive work life balance?
By letting go.
Let go of the idea that you have to do everything now. That you can’t waste a moment. Who ever determined that taking a moment to breathe and just enjoy life was wasting time? It’s crazy. We’re so busy trying to get somewhere that we’ve forgotten how to really live. We think cramming our lives with activity from the time we wake til the time we crash into bed at night is how we make the most of our lives.
We think we have to be constantly learning, growing, and doing, or else we’re slowly dying.
Whatever happened to just BEING?
In order to experience work life balance you have to flip that switch. Change your mindset. Be willing to step off the path that nearly everyone in this country is on. And stop worrying that others might view you as unmotivated, or worse, lazy.
You don’t have to give up your goals, but you do need to relax into them. Remove the self-imposed deadlines. Stop trying to get everywhere so fast. Let life unfold in front of you. You just may find you achieve your goals faster and easier that way. Funny things happen when you stop trying so hard. I’m not saying it’s about sitting around and navel-gazing for a living. I’m talking about adopting a slower pace, and letting life do the driving for a while. And in so doing you may just be amazed at where life takes you.
To experience work life balance you have to change your mindset.
You can still strive for success, but you first need to redefine it. It’s not all about the money. It’s not all about the job title. Or the promotion. Or the power. Or the number of people you’re leading or impressing. It’s about making a difference. A big one or a little one. And not being in such a dang hurry to get there, wherever there is.
To experience work life balance you have to stop trying to impress other people.
Heck, you have to stop trying to impress yourself. Stop trying to prove you’re worthy to your colleagues, clients, coworkers, boss, or parents. Just do your thing. Yes, do it to the best of your ability. But also have realistic expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your life, career, or family be. They all need time to marinate and mature. Give them that time.
Give yourself the time to enjoy your life’s journey.
Know there’s always tomorrow. And if there’s not, it wasn’t meant to be.
When you remove all the rules and restrictions of how we’re supposed to live our lives, how we’re supposed to progress in our careers, how we’re supposed to parent, and instead just live in a way that works for you and those you care about, everything shifts.
You begin to see what’s really important. You begin to enjoy life. You begin to relax.
And, that balance you were so ferociously chasing while you were trying to be superwoman suddenly shows up all by itself.
When you take time to breathe, and stop rushing and trying to fit that last thing in, your life transforms.
So it doesn’t all get done today. Big deal. Do it tomorrow. Or maybe don’t do it at all. It’s funny how when you let a little time go by, those things that once felt mandatory, no longer seem necessary.
The bottom-line is, work life balance is possible. But you very likely need to change who you are in order to find it. If you’re trying to find it amidst the crazy work- and success-obsessed culture that most of us were raised in, you won’t find it. YOU need to change first.