We’re Still Doing Work-Life Balance All Wrong
Here’s the bad news: work-life balance doesn’t exist. At least, not as it’s been sold to us. True, we may be dividing our time more equally between work and home, yet we don’t feel balance, do we?
Why not? Because work doesn’t end after our last meeting. We transition into a second shift, with after-hour messaging and email correspondence.
Disconnecting from work nowadays is almost unheard of. Because work boundaries have disappeared. So our laptops come with us on vacation. There’s full permission for work to spill over into life. (There may even be real consequences for not participating in the “always on” culture.)
So while the quest for work-life balance was intended to liberate us from our current overload, it has left most of us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. We feel badly about not knowing how to slow our hectic lives.
We continue to carry the expectation that the job will get done, at whatever personal cost. We burn the candle at both ends, and then wonder why we feel burnt out.
The Clear Path to Burnout
I felt burnt out when I was juggling part-time employment and stay-at-home motherhood. My transition to part-time employment was my way of sidestepping the anticipated overload of full-time work and motherhood. Yet I ended up trading a full-time job for the angst of feeling as though I was falling short in both new roles.
You see, shorter hours in the office left me struggling for full permission to work less. To compensate, I increased my productivity. I would not dare decline a project. And I secretly judged any delegation of my workload as a sign of weakness.
The tipping point happened when my dear daughter innocently asked me if I was planning on bringing my laptop on vacation this time.
(My laptop had traveled with us on the previous two summer vacations, where family time was disrupted by several days of my remote work.) And my fear of doing less was costing me my health and happiness.
I was on the clear path to burnout.
The Antidote to Burnout: Define Balance for Yourself
Here’s what you need to know: you get to define what balance looks like.
Balance has less to do with where you spend your time and more to do with how you spend it, and how you feel about the way you spend it.
If balance is the opposite of burnout, then what forces lead to burnout for you? Do you ...
· Habitually take on too much, without factoring in proper rest and restorative practices?
· Believe that when your energy wanes, it’s a sign of weakness?
· See rest as a last resort, passing judgment on yourself for not being able to do it all?
What would your life be like if, instead, you …
· Modeled a life that matches your goals, energy, and values?
· Said no to people and invitations, without guilt or fear of disappointment?
· Were so connected to your body and energy that you allowed for rest without apology?
The Difficult Truth About Balance
Here’s a difficult truth: balance is a choice. This truth can bring up a lot of resistance. I know it did for me. My patterned thinking made the overload feel so necessary. My brain tried to unravel the truth, with thoughts like, “What if it ALL needs to be carried? What if there’s nothing I can set down?” “If don’t do it, no one will.”
To counter those arguments, here’s what I recommend:
Lovingly consider that when everything is important, nothing is important. It’s simply impossible that everything in your life holds equal value. Know what your current values are, versus what you think they should be, and understand that those values will likely shift over time.
Balance comes from creating a life that grants you permission to do the things you want to do, without attaching any guilt. From living into your values and what you want, instead of from what others want and expect from you. Life becomes richer, fulfilling, and freeing.
As a coach, I believe that you have everything it takes to restore balance to your life. I’ve seen firsthand how powerful it is for my clients to shift from burnout to balance.
How do we do this? We work to identify what matters most to you, get clear on what you want, and then create a simple plan to bring it all to life. (And then when your brain calls it all into question, I’m there to help you get back on track.)
If you’re ready to reclaim your time and energy, book your free 45 minute consult call with me.
Together, we’ll sort through what feels out of balance in your health and in your life, and get clear on how you can start living the life you want.