Life Balance

We’re inundated with the myth that we should be striving for a work/life balance, I believe we’ve got it wrong, we should be striving for a balanced life.  Forget whether it’s work, family, personal or anything else, what we’re looking for is to feel good about how we manage the different parts of our lives on a day to day or week by week basis.

Joshua Lee, the founder of LF Media, Inc., once wrote for Fast Company:

“I don’t believe you have work-life balance: You have a life balance, where everything you do complements your life’s work. My family is the major reason I’ve designed my business in a way that allows me to spend time with them.”

By striving for a work life balance, we’re never going to get it right.  We need to look ask the question, what works for us?  ‘Progress not perfection’ as Marie Forleo says.  Some of us love what we do, it energies us and makes us feel good – we may want more or if we do more we feel guilty at not spending more time with those we love. For others there are times when we need to spend time on work, or with our family – the trick is to be okay with that,  it’s not about how much time we spend in either place it’s the quality of time we spend there.

According to Health Canada, there are four categories associated with balancing the different aspects of our life:

  • Role overload:

    • This form of work-life conflict occurs when the total demands on time and energy associated with the prescribed activities of multiple roles are too great to perform the roles adequately or comfortably.
  • Work-to-family interference:

    • This type of role conflict occurs when work demands and responsibilities make it more difficult to fulfill family-role responsibilities (e.g., long hours in paid work prevent attendance at a child’s sporting event, preoccupation with the work role prevents an active enjoyment of family life, work stresses spill over into the home environment and increase conflict with the family).
  • Family-to-work interference:

    • This type of role conflict occurs when family demands and responsibilities make it more difficult to fulfill work-role responsibilities (e.g., a child’s illness prevents attendance at work, conflict at home makes concentration at work difficult).
  • Caregiver strain:

    • Caregiver strain is a multi-dimensional construct defined in terms of “burdens” in the caregivers’ day-to-day lives, which can be attributed to the need to provide care or assistance to someone else who needs it.

In another document they suggest ways it which organizations can help employees in balancing their lives, these include investing in on-site daycare, as well as flexible scheduling.

The Quality of your life is in your hands!

It is great that organizations are looking at holistic ways in which to support their employees, however I believe it’s also up to us as individuals to look at ways we can balance our life, whether spending too much time at work, thinking about work or working on personal challenges. Recently in chatting with a friend, she remarked on a previous employer, whose HR manual said all the right things.  However, the supervisors and managers obviously hadn’t read it, because they texted late at night, when one was driving from one destination to another etc.. And then complained that their employees didn’t respond immediately!

So although I may complain that I’ve had to work late sometimes, I also need  to look at where my head is when I’m at work, am I really focused or do I waste time, worrying about balancing my life ?  Too, do my family/office think I’m spending too much time on the one or the other, or is it in my head?  If they do feel I’m spending too much time sometimes, what if I engage them by explaining why I have to work late, and together look at ways in which they can support me today, so that I can free up my time sooner or even work on a reward for everyone when this intense time comes to an end.

Time to Choose:

If there is no end in sight, then being responsible must mean asking the question, is this the right place for me – now some people may say, ‘I don’t have a choice’, however there is always a choice.  Keep searching for something better, maybe a lateral move might be better, if the choice is between being constantly exhausted, mentally knocked down, or moving to a similar job where the culture is different. Sometimes we need to make those hard choices in order to save our sanity, and that of our family.

When it is our family that is pulling at us, then the choice may again need to be made, to take unpaid leave; to make a difficult choice of leaving a job that doesn’t allow you sufficient time to spend with your family for one that may pay less but that does allow you that time.  Balance is always about choices and we are all different – remember that saying ‘no-one on their deathbed is going to say they wished they’d spent more time at the office’.  This is your only crack at this life – make the best choices you can!  Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, and that there is plenty of life left in you to live!

If you have challenges with balance and would like to chat, contact us for a free discovery call: