The myth of work/life balance
Another day, another article or blog about the ever-elusive work/life balance.Â The problem with work/life balance?Â It doesnâ€™t exist.Â Itâ€™s a black and white term that doesnâ€™t acknowledge the grey of life and serves only as eternal fodder for the media and puts continual pressure on people trying desperately to achieve it.
Think about what the term â€˜balanceâ€™ means to you.Â Are you picturing a pair of scales with equal amounts in each dish?Â The definition of balance in Dictionary.com is â€˜a state of equilibrium or equipoiseâ€™.Â Is this what youâ€™re trying to achieve in your life?
The fact of the matter is that life is never equally doled out in these measures.Â Sometimes, work can take up all your time and then you have days upon days with the kids during school holidays.Â No wonder people are always stressed and feeling guilty that theyâ€™re not putting enough time into various areas of their life â€“ and letâ€™s not even get started on exercise, visiting relatives and all the other little things that take up our time.
So, whatâ€™s the answer?Â Well, firstly, I think itâ€™s to address the very term.Â Why not call it work/life compro-balance?Â Simply by changing the term, it changes expectations and beliefs about what is possible to achieve.Â The â€˜comproâ€™ in this case represents compromise â€˜a settlement of differences by mutual concessionsâ€™ by Dictionary.com definitions.
The use of this new term reflects the achievement of â€˜balanceâ€™ in life much more truthfully as in the pursuit of this state, there will always be concessions made.Â There is simply not enough time in the day to achieve everything we want to and whereas use of the old term seemed to indicate this was possible, the new allows people to understand it isnâ€™t always.
Think about the term work-life compro-balance, does the use of this term relieve the pressure of trying to be all things to all people?Â Allow you the opportunity to forgive yourself if you donâ€™t get everything done in the day?
The second step of the process is to use the term to re-evaluate what youâ€™re trying to achieve.Â List the areas of your life that need to be attended to, for example, sleep, children, husband, work, friends, business, housework, exercise, including things that you might like to do but have never been able to before.
Then, think of your life as a 100% whole, acknowledging that the time we have is finite and we canâ€™t create any more out of thin air.Â Divide this whole into those things you are required to do (they will need to be factored in first), followed by those you want to do.Â Itâ€™s up to you how you do this but a weekly or monthly representation would be more effective as some things are only done once a week or month.
By looking at your results you will be able to see a representation of your time and how much you truly have for exercise or coffee with friends.Â When you have this understanding, you can not only start trying to reallocate percentages by, for example, hiring a cleaner to allow time for exercise but you will also have an understanding of why you arenâ€™t able to fit certain things in your life, thus reducing guilt and the feeling of pressure.
The resulting feeling of understanding and the knowledge that you are in control of all aspects of your life â€“ that is true balance.
Alli Price runs Motivating Mum, a website and events business offering support and advice for mums in business, or those starting up.Â www.motivatingmum.co.uk
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