I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people who are desperately seeking work-life balance. This is probably the number one issue that people seek my help for.
When I speak at conferences, people stand up in a large crowd to ask how I can help them increase their work-life balance. When I am a guest on a podcast, hosts not only ask this question when they are interviewing me, they often keep me on the podcast well after the recording has stopped to share their own struggle with work-life balance. When I am the leader in virtual presentations and invite people to post their greatest challenge, they write about this issue in the chat box. And… when individuals volunteer to get coached live on my podcast, The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, work-life balance is by far the most common issue that is brought to the table.
Why is Work-Life Balance in Such High Demand?
“Work-Life Balance” — it’s a catch phrase at this point. I would even say that the term has become trendy. But what is it about work-life balance that has people so spellbound? Why is this something that so many people want? And why is this something that so many people feel is missing in their lives?
Let’s start by understanding what drives all desire…
The reason we want anything is because we believe that it will create a positive feeling.
The reason we want to be in a romantic relationship is because we believe it will create feelings of love and care.
The reason we want a promotion is because it will create feelings of pride and satisfaction.
The reason that people want work-life balance is because they believe that more balance will increase their feelings of calm and control, ultimately leaving them feeling happier, more peaceful and more satisfied with life. More work-life balance means less guilt, less exhaustion, and less frenzy.
WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT???
The Work-Life Balance Misconception
Unfortunately, most people think that the feelings that they are seeking will unfold as soon as there is a time-based balance in their lives — when they can dedicate equal amounts to everything that matters to them. Moms look for work-life balance so that they can spend just as much time on their work as they do with their kids. Entrepreneurs look for work-life balance so that they can reclaim some of the personal time that they sacrificed in the process of building their companies. Even newly minted university grads make sure that employers value work-life balance in their culture before accepting a new job appointment.
The Impact of Balance
People desperately want balance. OK. Let’s look at balance.
Picture two kids at a park on a teeter totter. Imagine that they are in perfect balance.
Can you picture it?
What is happening when they are in perfect balance?
NO!!! NOTHING happens when things are in perfect balance! There is no movement at all — no momentum, no action, no motion. There’s stillness, immobility, even suspension.
Nice for a moment, yes. But for a lifetime? I don’t think so.
Seeking moments of stillness is a healthy pursuit but seeking a whole life of balance eliminates the ups and downs of the ride itself. Imagine a roller coaster that’s ‘in balance’. Not so much fun, right? The same thing goes for life.
Instead of balance, what I really encourage people to figure out is how to truly enjoy the ride. All of it — the highs and the lows, the wins and the losses, the triumphs and the challenges — while grabbing moments of balance every now and again. That’s life.
The Alternative to Work-Life Balance
The truth is that work-life balance will NOT bring about greater calm, peace, joy or satisfaction. These emotions come from the way we think about things — our lives, our jobs, our circumstances, etc.
When we are at work and we think that we should be at home instead, that thought causes us to feel uneasy and stressed. By the same token, when we are at home with our kids, but we are thinking about that proposal we need to send, spending time at home doesn’t give us the peace we think it ought to supply. So now what?
BE WHERE YOU ARE.
Understand that the feelings you seek — calm, peace and control — have very little to do with how much time you spend anywhere but have everything to do with your thinking. When you give yourself permission to be fully present wherever you are, your stress is reduced and your peacefulness is increased. Imagine a life where you are thrilled to be at work without guilt AND a life where you are fully present at home with your partner, kids, friends, etc.
The outcome that people long for when they talk about work-life balance is not achieved through time management, it’s achieved through thought mastery.
I’d love to help you get there. I can be reached at email@example.com.