I genuinely get an uncomfortable feeling down my spine when I hear people talking about “work-life balance”.
If that is your goal then you are in for a nasty surprise – and a disappointment.
How can I say that I have my life on one side of the balance sheet and work is on the other? How has “work” somehow become something separate and stand alone to my life?
That is rubbish – work is part of my life, not separate from it!
As Vikrmn, author of Guru with Guitar, said “Work is just a part of our life, not vice versa. So live life full time and work work, part time”. Sound advice indeed.
Remember what Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, said about work: “Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked or perhaps even shattered”.
That thought is worth keeping in mind!
To me, balance is creating the time to do all the things that are really important to me. But, what I have learned, through painful trial and error I can tell you, is that that balance can look different at different stages in my life.
My priorities, which do change, do determine what is important in my life. I think of my life as the seasons of the year – there are times for sowing, reaping and harvesting.
So depending on the season, how I spend my time will be different. And I should not beat myself up that I will spend my time differently at different times.
If I have to complete a project for a client and it must be delivered next Monday, is my life out of balance because I give quality time on the weekend to make sure it is the best it can be?
Should I feel guilty that I am not giving time to my family on that weekend? Not at all! It is just that “season”.
Now if that is how I spend every weekend, well that is a different story!
What is balance but focusing on your priorities? We must accept that sometimes those priorities will demand chunks of our time.
Does that put my life out of balance? No, I am just focusing on what is important!
I love the quote from Alain de Botton: “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.“
Effectiveness is about ensuring that the time we spend is being dedicated to our priorities – simple as that! But, not easy!! If your calendar is in sync with what is truly important, then you have got balance.
So, please don’t try and create a fixed picture of balance – that would be folly!
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