Health-e-Tip: Forget Work-Life Balance
We all want work-life balance, but, when it comes to actually achieving it, we question ourselves, compare our lives to other people’s, and end up frustrated. Work-life balance is a subjective, internal concept, and you are the only person who can evaluate your success.
Here are five insights that may help you define and sustain your version of work-life balance.
- The quality of time matters more than the quantity.
You might write the best blog post ever in 15 minutes. You might have an incredibly meaningful, memorable experience with your family in an hour. Shifting the focus from quantity to quality eliminates the pressure. Make it your goal to have regular quality time with each of the priorities in your life, and not to stress about how many hours you spend on each thing.
- There is no “right” way to structure it.
It isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. Your version of work-life balance is unique to your situation and needs. For example, if you travel for work, you might need to make a few days a week all about your professional priorities and make the others all about your family. The defining characteristic of balance isn’t an equally distributed number of hours; it’s an internal sense.
Maybe you don’t feel that unless you do yoga every day, or maybe you only need one class a week to stay centered. To compare is to despair. Don’t covet or try to emulate someone else’s formula. That’s proof you aren’t listening to yourself.
- You will never feel balanced if your work is inherently draining.
We tend to put more focus on “work-life balance” when we are doing something we don’t feel energized by. When that is the case, the goal is actually to spend as little time as possible doing the thing that you hate, and as much as possible doing the things you enjoy. Regardless of how much you minimize your work, you will never achieve balance that way.
When you’re passionate about your work, it becomes an integral part of your life, rather than something that detracts from it. If your work makes you better, you won’t crave time away from it in the same way. If it doesn’t feel that way for you, try making some of these mental shifts.
- It isn’t a static concept.
You don’t get into crow pose and stay there, perfectly balanced, in perpetuity. Your needs will adjust, as will the environment you’re in. Your children’s needs will change drastically over time. Your spouse may be more or less available, depending on what is going on in his or her life. Sometimes you need more sleep, more exercise. Adaptability and awareness of your own feelings are crucial.
Check in with yourself about what you need daily, and adjust as needed. If you feel joyful, engaged, stimulated, and connected, chances are you’re pretty well-balanced, regardless of how your hours are allocated.
- It’s all in your head.
What most of us really want when we talk about “work-life balance” is to be able to free our minds. We want to be fully present with our kids, in our prayer time, so we can soak up every juicy minute and let it empower us in other aspects of our lives. Ultimately, most of our life experience is dictated, filtered, and perceived through the functions of our mind. So, if you’re struggling to disconnect, mindfulness exercises can make a huge difference.
There are only 24 hours in a day, but there are trillions of neurons firing in our brains. And, with intention and repetition, they can be directed. The next time someone asks you how you achieve work-life balance, tell them it’s all in your head.
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