We often hear of this pursuit of the ultimate work/life balance.
The concept of making sure we are not burning the candle at both ends, and putting the “right” amount of effort into each area of our lives so that we have this feeling of being balanced in our lives.
I pursued it. I believed it. Hell, one of my tagline’s when it came to my writing/coaching was to help women achieve balance in their lives.
And now? I call bullshit on the idea of work/life balance. It just doesn’t exist in reality. Sure, the idea of it sounds great. If we put equal effort into all areas of our life then nothing will get forgotten about, everything will get the equal attention it deserves.
But. What if there is a big project at work that demands extra attention? Or a family member is sick and needs extra attention? Or what if your friend calls you up saying that she just broke up with her fiancé and is devastated? What if YOU get sick?
Yes, it’s important to give attention to each area of our life that we consider important (self, family, friends, career), but there will ALWAYS be moments where one (or maybe two) areas require more attention than the others. Things get out of balance and the other areas are left on the back burner for a little while.
You know what? That’s okay. In fact, that’s more than okay. If we strive for the ultimate balance all of the time, we’re going to end up feeling guilty when one area of our life ultimately gets pushed to the back burner.
Right now, building my career is taking precedence over almost everything else in my life. So, most other things are taking less of a priority right now. At the same time, the moment I notice my own health is starting to suffer a bit (either physically or mentally), I am bringing that back to front and centre. Unapologetically and without question. Because if one area starts to suffer due to not getting enough attention, all of the other areas will start to suffer as well.
Instead of referring to it as balance, I like to think of each area of my life as a tall glass of water. Some days, I am going to drink more water out of one glass versus another. But you can’t fill up multiple glasses at once with one pitcher (the pitcher is you). So inevitably, you will need to take some time to fill-up each glass, which is where the extra attention comes in.
So, my advice to you? Stop striving for the ultimate balance. Be okay if one or two areas of your life take priority over others for a while. BUT, pay attention. If you find yourself starved for human connection because you’ve been working late, make a point of making plans with a friend. If you find yourself getting sick or feeling burnt out, take a bit of extra time for you and don’t feel guilty about it. If you want to move up to the next level at work, work the extra hours to put the time and effort in.
Everything else will be okay taking a back seat…for a little while.