With all the press about work life balance, including the fact that it’s a myth, I thought I’d chip in with my 2c worth.
Regardless of whether you believe in work-life balance or not, the insatiable quest to slay that mythical beast will probably remain.
So assuming that work-life balance is a tangible thing, I propose a definition, simply:
“spending what you feel is the right amount of time working, and the right amount of time on things that support your well-being.”
It’s up to you to define what ‘the right amount’ is and it’s fair to expect that there is some invariable overlap between the two (especially if you run your own business).
An idyllic work-life balance scenario might involve going to work, doing your job and then coming home to spend enjoyable time with family, friends, on hobbies or leisure/pleasure activities.
Well, there’s the real myth…..
Some of us have kids, some don’t.
Some of us work to live, and others live to work.
In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all life situation, therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all scenario for work-life balance.
In context of all that, the answer to work-life balance – the sweet spot – may lie in balancing two things:
- your personal drive to meet expectations/responsibilities (yours/others)
- allowing yourself to meet your personal well-being needs.
That comes down to your personal beliefs and values –what drives you, and why that’s important.
What Drives You?
You might be the kind of person who gets up and skips breakfast to be at work on the early bus so you can finish the report you’re working on, then you work late to get it finished, existing on take-out food, then get the last bus home and stumble into bed.
In this scenario, your drive to meet a deadline, please your client/boss, cope with workplace pressure, feel adequate or be productive may take priority over your immediate health needs (eating breakfast, staying calm, exercising, sleeping well, connecting with others).
Or, you might be the kind of person who gets the kids up and feeds them (and your partner), skipping your own breakfast so you can bustle around for them, making lunch, getting them off to school/work, cleaning the house, doing the shopping and washing, organising dinner and then visiting your sick mother who needs your help before picking the kids up, making them a snack, taking them to sport and getting their homework started before you finish off dinner for the family, so you can watch the news and then stumble into bed.
In this scenario, your focus is taking the responsibility for everyone else’s well-being, such that there’s no time left for you.
These are just two of many possible scenarios….but in any case, you’re appearing unlucky last on the priorities list.
Meeting Your Own Needs
The secret to slaying the mythical beast of work-life balance is simple and fairly un-sexy.
It’s simply allowing yourself some time to meet your own needs.
Maybe that’s an hour in the bathroom by yourself on a Wednesday night.
Maybe it’s reminding yourself each day that you achieved something good.
Maybe you need to have Friday nights out with your friends to simply laugh and have a relaxing dinner.
Regardless of WHAT it is, your solution lies in deciding how important your needs are, setting some realistic boundaries around them, and finding creative ways to slot them into your day/week/life.