Work-Life Balance Is Hard
Work-life balance is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. A little work-life balance will make a huge difference in your life, but is work-life balance real? I’ll answer that in just a moment and give you some powerful actions you can take to balance your own life. First I want to tell you a quick story about my struggle with work-life balance.
A few years ago, I was “Living the Dream” while working in Corporate America. I was making pretty good money, getting all the right “atta boys”, and quite honestly burning the candle at both ends. There was no sense of balance in my life, let alone work-life balance.
I found myself looking for ways to ensnare this elusive creature known as “work-life balance”. There was no shortage of “help” out there on the subject. There are even quite a few out sources out there that say work/life balance is a hoax. And why wouldn’t they, it’s so hard to achieve. Right?
There’s no doubt that work-life balance is hard but it’s not something that you achieve. Like success, it’s not a “one and done” kind of thing. It’s more of a discipline you practice. If you’re practicing, it’s no wonder you screw it up sometimes.
Some would say that because I’ve left Corporate America that is why I have been able to create balance. While that has helped it’s not the only reason I have more balance now nor is leaving the old 9-5 a requirement to reach a level of balance that serves you. As an entrepreneur, I have to continually practice my work-life balance skills.
What is true about work-life balance that you need to know are three simple things. You need to know what’s important to you, you need to have a plan, and you need to organize. With even a little effort in these three areas, you’ll see a huge difference.
Know what’s important to you
Knowing what’s important to you is the most important part of achieving work-life balance. Without knowing what’s important to you, how can you begin to know where to prioritize your time and energy? Here are a few questions that can get your brain moving in the right direction.
What’s important to you?
- How do you want to show up?
- How do you want to make a difference?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What type of person are you when no one is looking?
- What do you take a stand for or against?
The answers to these questions will give you clues about what’s important to you, but just knowing what’s important won’t solve your work-life balance issues. You need to have a plan too.
Have a Plan
What’s your reaction when you hear the word plan? It’s ok either way. Whether you’re someone that loves to plan or it sends shudders up your spine, there’s no denying that having a plan is much better than not having one. Even a loose plan helps to decrease anxiety and increase satisfaction.
Having a plan doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, a simple plan is usually best to start with. No need to overcomplicate things.
Get started with a plan by knowing what’s important and assessing how you’re doing in those areas. Are you spending too much time at work and therefore not enough with your family? Or are you spending too much of your energy on your side-hustle and not enough on your work goals? Maybe you’ve found yourself answering emails or phone calls from the soccer fields while watching your kids and not creating enough time with your spouse.
The basic elements of a plan…
- What’s important to the outcome? (this is where that first step of knowing what’s important to you comes in handy)
- Where do you stand now?
- Where would you like to be?
- What’s in the way?
- What will you do about it?
- And so on and so on…
Do a rough assessment of how you spend your time and energy. Next figure out where you’d like to be. Identify a few areas you can make improvements and how you will do the work. You’ll need some basic organization to get this going. I’ll share how to do that next.
Bucketize your life
Organizing your life sounds super overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. I use an exercise with my clients called the Wheel of Life that gets much more detailed, but try these three buckets to begin. Draw three columns on a piece of paper and label the columns Professional, Relationships, and Personal.
I’ve found that almost everything important to me fits somewhere in one of these three buckets.
Personal is all the ways to fill your own cup first. So, unless you fill your cup first, there is nothing to pour into the other buckets. Personal includes spiritual growth, connection to purpose, growing mentally & emotionally, and being physically fit.
Relationships seem self-explanatory, but it can get a little involved. Relationships can refer to intimate relationships or non-intimate relationships. This can be a spouse or your children or even your boss. How do you manage the energy you put into relationships?
Next is the Professional is the bucket. Of course, this is where your job or career resides. It’s also the bucket where your interests for community involvement live as well as any projects you work on. Think of it as the work that has your name on it.
Putting things in these categories allows you to assess how you’re doing and build a plan to improve.
Work-Life Balance In A Nutshell
In conclusion, if work-life balance is not “real” for you, you have two paths you can choose. You can do nothing or you can change. Doing nothing allows you to blow it off as a hoax or even ignore it and hope someone else will fix it. If you choose this you don’t have to do much. The default future will take care of itself. As a result, a year from now you’ll still be struggling. (sad face)
Option two is to make a change. Use the information above as a starting point. Set a few minutes on your calendar to answer the questions above and start. Like I said earlier, even a little effort will make a big difference over time.
I’m happy to help as well. Just use the scheduling button above and let’s connect.