I'm just going to come out and say it. Work life balance is BS. It doesn't exist. Additionally, it is my firm belief that seeking balance almost always leads to failure.
Are you ready to get real today? Because I am. These are bold statements, especially since work-life balance is a buzzword. It's a thought on every working mom's mind, something every coach and business owner talks about, and something that everyone seems to be striving for.
Yeah... everyone except me. I don't seek it anymore, because I truly believe it doesn't exist. If you're still with me, I'd love to explore why I feel this way, and what I'm doing instead.
3 Reasons I think Balance is BS
1. The very concept of balance assumes and implies that there are only 2 of us- our work self and our life self. That's a complete oversimplification. I don't know about you, but my being is way more multifaceted than that. In my case, the "life" half consists of being a mom of 3, a wife, a sister, a friend, a church member, not to mention trying to exercise, and run a household. There are more than two me's! Anyone else seeing an imbalance in the scale yet?
2. Balance also implies that we need to be trying to hold both mythical sides of our lives at a constant level, all the time. Anyone who's been adulting for more than 10 minutes knows that this is virtually impossible. Anytime one side needs more attention than the other, the scales tip, and the guilt sets in. And if you throw in a crisis like major illness, a death in the family or another crazy tragedy, the whole thing just falls apart. On top of this, there's this hidden assumption that you should be able to do it all, and if you can't there's something wrong with you.
3. Seeking balance automatically sets each part of our lives in direct opposition to each other.
The conflict is built in. If you're giving too much at home, then you feel like you're neglecting your work; as soon as you get busy at work, the guilt and associated judgement pops up about neglecting your home life. And around and around we go.
I started thinking that there has GOT to be a better way, and I think I'm on my way to finding it. I stopped chasing balance because I was sick of trying to live up to this externally imposed standard that said I had to split my life in order to be successful and happy. I didn't want to feel guilty about doing work I loved, and didn't want to feel unaccomplished while spending time doing things with the people that I loved.
So what do I do instead of chasing balance? I seek integration and intentional living.
Four Things to Do INSTEAD of Chasing Balance
1. Accept that life goes through seasons, and no one season lasts forever.
No matter who you are, or what you do, you will experience times where one part of your life needs more attention than others. I've had a lot of experience with this- my mom died of cancer just before the kick-off of the busiest wedding season I've had to date. That year I had to manage grief and clients, and I had to put my friendships and other outside commitments on hold. Had I tried to maintain everything at the same level, I would have burnt out. The knowledge that it was temporary allowed me to choose to have a slower season the next year so I could tend to my emotional healing and my sanity.
2. Work to build my business into my life, not the other way around.
This is a common pitfall that I see happen as my clients' businesses grow- they forget that they started businesses to support their lifestyle. As to do lists get longer and business gets busier, it's so easy to try and squeeze workouts or date nights into the teeny gaps in your calendar between client meetings, site visits and endless email. I highly recommend doing things the other way around. Block off time in your calendar specifically for self care, family time, socializing, and other things that bring you joy. Granted this takes a lot of planning and forethought, but that is what living intentionally is all about right?
3. Stop trying to do it all, at least not all at the same time.
One of the biggest reasons that successful creative women appear to do it all is that they don't! I finally stopped thinking that I had to be the one to clean, do all the grocery shopping and manage everything by hand (can you tell I was a perfectionist??). I have wholeheartedly embraced delegation, systems, workflows, automation and templates in so many places in my life. In order for me to focus on what really matters to me, I had to let a few things go. For my business, I hired a VA and delegate as much as I can afford to. We order our groceries online for delivery or pick up. We have a Trello board where we keep our grocery list, and we've set up so many of our bills on autopay. Less for me to do manually means less mindspace and stress.
4. Emphasize self care and connection to my inner being.
I have been a self care fanatic for the past 2 years, and I give this change a ton of credit for me being mostly sane most days. This may seem out of place, but bear with me. I know in my world, it was super easy for me to literally forget to take care of myself. I'd skip breakfast to get the kids out on time, I'd delay my shower until the middle of the night so everyone else could bathe. I stopped reading books I loved, and devoted ALL of my time to either business or kids. I bet you can guess what happened. Crash an burn! It was not pretty. After my mom passed, I decided to start taking care of me- mainly to keep from breaking down further. But I realized that doing things just for me made me a better mom, a better business owner and a better person. I get a massage monthly, I buy myself flowers, I write in my prayer journal and meditate. My self care routines are getting more involved, but I always block out time to dig in and reconnect with my soul. When I skip this, it shows, big time.
To wrap up, balance isn't real. It just isn't. We are more complex than that. Instead, consider working towards integrating the parts of your life into a tapestry of your own creation. Tapestries are much prettier than scales anyway, right?
What do you think? Tell me your story of chasing balance in the comments!
Until next time-