The search for the illusive and mythical Work-Life Balance is adding stress to people’s lives – not lowering it.
It has been decades that I have been blessed to work with, coach and mentor successful business owners and investors. During this period of time I have witnessed “lifestyle” trends come and go. I have watched people continually change their lives, their businesses and their philosophies based on what the hottest book on the shelf is (even if they haven’t read it all the way through). And sadly, this has led many to change businesses and investment strategies from successful to unsuccessful. An endless chase for the “Nirvana” promised by the latest trend.
Here We Go Again:
One of the latest trends that has grabbed many people’s attention is the perfectly named: “Finding Work Life Balance.”
Wow, what a perfect marketing term:
- It feels good (who doesn’t want balance)
- It seems to make sense (more time with family/kids/friends/travel) and most importantly from a viral philosophy consideration:
- It’s easy to remember. (much like the nonsense of “Location, Location, Location” being a real estate investment strategy. Easy to remember but fraught with pain and suffering if misinterpreted)
Work-Life Balance Is Immeasurable and Therefore Unachievable
One thing I know for sure, if you can measure something you can achieve it (or at least work towards it). But if you can’t measure it, it is impossible to achieve. This is the case for the chase of “Work-Life Balance.”
Am I currently witnessing a dramatic increase in stress levels of those who are on the hunt for this balance. It is like it has become a second treadmill they must run on WHILE still running their businesses or performing at their jobs. So the result is actually counter to what they are stating.
They stress out when they don’t have ‘enough’ hours for their leisure activities. They stress out when they take the leisure time and therefore can’t get all their work done or they find their business plateaus.
Is it GREAT to have a goal of spending time with those you love, spending time on yourself, spending time in your business/job, spending vacation time the way you want it? Absolutely.
However, the majority who buy into the Work-Life Balance philosophy forget the fact that if you can’t measure it – you will never achieve it and therefore will always feel like they are failing in its pursuit.
What Is Balance?.
But what is ‘balance? is it the number of hours? Is it the amount of emotional energy you spend in each endeavour? Work/Life balance, while sounding good in concept is immeasurable (especially by a formula.). On top of this, imagine how completely unachievable it becomes when you take into account that ‘balance’ is but an illusion – what is in balance for some is completely out of balance for others.
Let’s begin to relieve these unnecessary stress and feelings of disappointment. To start, why not try an approach that so many very successful people follow. We accept that “Life” is everything we do. There is no distinction between “work and life.”
Simply understand that Work/business/philanthropy/family/health/friends/relationships et al are all a part of this thing we call “Life.” Life is everything that we do, all that we achieve, all that we love (and sometime hate). Life is just life and work is just a component of it.
Changing how you frame the word “Life” can make all of the difference. It helps you to make better clearer and non-emotional decisions. You begin to see where, in the big scheme of things that all parts of “Life” get out of balance… and that is OK. No guilt, just reality. It takes you out of guilt and gets you on a path, a path you set and control a path that can be measurable, not in hours but in feeling of achievement. A place where all of life becomes “life”, no matter what age, what income level or what demographic.
Measurable Goals are Set
There are enough stresses in the world, you don’t need to add another one… especially given that it is not measurable and therefore not achievable.
Set strong challenging financial/business/health goals in your life. Goals against which you can measure your achievements. Then go after them, no compromise.
But when if comes to measuring “Life,” I suggest you regularly take a feel as to how much you are liking it, how much closer to your overall “Personal Belize” (life goal) you have moved, who the people are surrounding you and how much others are enjoying you and how much YOU respect yourself.
Under this “Life Integration” philosophy you begin to work hard on all aspects of your life (biz/job/family/vacation/relationships etc). And you find ways in which to integrate all the pieces you enjoy, wherever possible.
It works for me and many of my colleagues and I hope it works for you as you stop measuring yourself against the immeasurable – and you start to see that it’s all just Life and we have just one to live.