Can we ever truly achieve balance between our work and personal lives?
In theory, the idea of “work-life balance” seems to make sense. Evenly dividing our time between our jobs and our personal time should give us the best of both worlds.
However, I believe that trying to achieve that “balance” causes us more angst than it should.
We are constantly being bombarded with advice on how we can and why we should bring balance to our lives. And when we aren’t able to achieve it, we feel guilty. We worry we are spending too much time at work and neglecting our families. Or we worry that taking time for ourselves means we are not dedicated to our jobs.
We are in a classic “Catch 22”!
And I believe that the use of the word “balance” is the problem.
True Balance between our Personal and Professional Lives is Not Possible! “Tweet This”
The reality is that, at any given time, one or the other will pull on our time and resources. There will be days, or sometimes even weeks, where either our work or personal obligations needs to take precedence.
According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of “balance” is;
“a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance”.
Instead of placing importance on the word “equal”, we should focus on the word “proper”. Giving something our “proper” time and energy means that we are doing what is appropriate given the situation.
That is why I believe that Our Lives are more like a Seesaw than something we can ever hope to balance!
Think about the times you have ridden a seesaw. I remember that at our neighborhood playground, my friends and I would often make a game out of trying to “balance” the seesaw. We would all carefully sit on either side, attempting to find the right mix to keep the seesaw level.
And yes, we would often win our battle for a moment. But then, inevitably, one side would drop and the balance we had won would be lost. The seesaw would once again do what it was designed to do, continually rock up and down, sometimes falling hard to one side or the other.
The sides of a seesaw are much like the different sides of our life, our work life and our personal life. The weight of each side is capable of changing in an instant according to the demands placed on us.
For example, we may have an urgent project at work that requires us to put aside everything else to complete. Or we may have a sick child, spouse, or parent that needs our attention.
Whatever the case may be, it is natural to place our focus squarely on who or what needs us at that time. This means setting our priorities based on our circumstances.
If doing your best means you have to work a 10 hour day to get a major project done, then that is what you have to do. Just make sure that when your project is complete, you swing your seesaw to the other side, giving the other part of your life the energy it deserves.
Will your seesaw ever really be balanced? It is doubtful. And you shouldn’t feel guilty because of it. You need to recognize that striving for “balance” is nothing but a losing battle.
Instead, we should all place our focus on who or what needs us the most now, and be satisfied with giving whatever we can to the rest. Being able to roll with it as our seesaw rocks should really be our goal.
Defining for ourselves the kind of life we want to live, and not allowing others to do that for us, is the ultimate freedom. Creating a blend that works will make us a lot happier in the long run.
And remember, the real fun of being on a seesaw is the up and down ride ~ so go out and enjoy it!
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