I really don’t know who dreamed up the idea of work-life balance. It is nearly impossible to balance work or life
independently. But throwing the two together and creating a balance? I honestly believe the odds of winning the lottery are higher.
I used to buy into the whole work-life balance dream just like I bought into the multi-tasking dream. With multitasking, you can check many things off your list, but those things didn’t receive your full effort. Work-life balance is the same. Trying to balance work and life means you won’t enjoy your work or your life, and things will be left undone.
But that’s because I think we have defined work-life balance incorrectly.
What is Work-Life Balance?
When I think of work-life balance, my interpretation is that of having it all at the same time. That was the definition I was given when I was raising my kids, working a full-time job, managing a household, and maintaining status-quo while my truck-driving husband was on the road to do his part to make a living to support us. Now that my kids are raised, my husband is working a retirement job, and I am running a business and helping with our grandkids, my definition of work-life balance has changed.
Work-life balance is managing whatever is going on at the moment. If you’re overwhelmed by something, change needs to happen. You don’t need to tell yourself you need to keep working on whatever it is and it will balance out. You’ll just get more and more worn down.
I remember when our kids were 11 and 6 years of age. I was working full-time at a manufacturing company, and I wasn’t getting enough sleep. My husband was gone all week, and I had a lot of responsibility at home and at work. And I couldn’t keep up.
I went to a friend who I knew would give me good advice, not necessarily what I wanted to hear but what I needed to hear, and I asked her what I should do. She counseled me to start planning to go from full-time to part-time work, which meant changing jobs.
It was such a simple answer, but I had been completely unable to think of it on my own. My thought process was so boxed-in that it hadn’t occurred to me to change jobs!
Of course, even with a solution in mind, I still had to take my time to make sure it wouldn’t negatively impact my family. But several months after that conversation my employer offered all nonexempt staff a buy-out package. When my supervisor gave mine to me, I signed it and handed it right back! I knew that was the answer I’d been waiting for.
If I had stayed at that job, I would be able to retire by now. But, I would have missed so many things on this road in my journey. I don’t regret that move. I know my life is richer and fuller because of that change. And, it was what I needed at that time to center my life.
Centering Your Life
A lot of changes have occurred since that decision 22 years ago, but when things are overwhelming I sit down and evaluate. Making a life changing decision is hard. But when you’ve done it once, the next time it is easier!
What are you overwhelmed by? What needs to change to allow you to enjoy life again? Ask a trusted adviser. Sit down and put some thought into a solution. And if me or my team can be of help to you, you know where to find me.