May 10 2016

Work/life Balance is Complete Nonsense.

I have a really strong opinion when it comes to work/life balance, because balance is about equality. Who wants their personal life to have equal value to your career? And who even has the energy to put equal parts into their personal life and career. When you put like that, it even sounds a little scary.

Harmony vs. Balance
So my take on life is more about harmony than balance. For starters, the word harmony instantly sounds nicer and more peaceful, and it doesn’t conjure up images of tightropes and balance beams! But seriously, harmony is just that, it’s about giving your life, your self and your family more harmony.

Sometimes life will ebb more in one direction and flow back into another, sometimes more equally than others. This is why you need to choose your own path. Your life has to be your own version of priorities and harmony.

I want to be 7 again
When we were young, we were encouraged to explore, to grow and to learn. Then suddenly as we get older, the responsibilities increase and we are told that we must balance (and do it all)!

Could you imagine going back to your seven year-old self and saying, “No darling, you must balance your work with your playtime”? Of course not. We encourage our kids to do what they need to with school and homework, and then get outside to play, laugh, leap and do whatever else they choose.

How can we do this as adults with responsibilities? Don’t put an expectation on yourself to get everything done right now. Instead, do two or three essential tasks each day. Then use the rest of the time to do the really important things. And by that I mean, spending time with your kids, taking time to just be, and pursuing hobbies that fill your emotional tank. You’ll never regret that time spent.

Make it happen
What you need to do right now to get your life in harmony:

  1. Choose your own path and create your own life.
  2. Make it clear for yourself what your path looks like. If you are not clear, how do you know it’s really what you want?
  3. Set limits and boundaries, but know that it’s not perfect and that’s ok.
  4. Have fun. Play with the kids. Get outside. Let go. Feel the sand between your toes.

The rules
As you choose your own path, consider three things:

  1. Whatever you do and whatever you choose, do not compare. Don’t try and be someone you are not. You many think that someone else’s life is perfect, but remember that the grass is not always greener. Make choices about your path that are within your own values and desires. Remember that their circumstances may be different, they may have more time to do the things that you’ve always wanted to do, but you will find that they might have had to opt out of something else.
  2. Your harmony should be ever changing. The harmony you have right now, might not work down the track. So adjusting and recalibrating your vision and your life is important to keep your more peaceful path. Just know that at times, you may find yourself more present for your family and less at work and vice versa – and that’s fine.
  3. Don’t see yourself as wearing different hats for different worlds (e.g. work vs. home life or social life). Be your authentic self at work and outside of work. You can be the same person, you just happen to do different things.

The cool stuff
Rather than trying to achieve the gold medal of work/life balance, life will tell you that harmony is far more manageable and so much more realistic. By choosing your own path, you can also choose not to feel guilty if you skip a meeting (with your employer’s permission) and head to the school athletics carnival.

There is nothing like walking across the playground and hearing your daughter squeal as she runs to you in delight! And equally, you can choose to not feel guilty when you go away for work, go get a massage, do that online course or spend time with friends.

It’s time to choose harmony over balance. I’m in. How about you?

First seen on the Women’s Agenda.

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